The Royal Commission in Western Australia has heard that the state’s gambling regulatory body has put an extreme level of trust in Crown Resort, as it was not as suspicious as it has been supposed to be before the beginning of the money-laundering scandal of the gambling giant.
At the Royal Commission hearing, Lanie Chopping, the WA’s Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries’ new acting director-general, hesitated before she agreed with David Leigh, the counsel assisting the investigation, that Crown Resorts has been given far too much trust by the gambling watchdog in the past. She further shared there had been some flaws in both the department and the Western Australian Gaming and Wagering Commission and agreed that the casino company got an excessive level of trust.
Ms Chopping, who was announced as the interim replacement of Duncan Ord in May, said that the state’s gambling regulatory body was examining its regulatory function and now all options related to the regulation of the operator’s Perth Casino. She further noted that, at this point, she is unable to tell whether more inspectors would be appointed or not.
The Royal Commission investigators also asked Ms Chopping about the allegations associated with Crown Resorts’ underpaid tax in Victoria. According to reports, the deductions may have been happening for many years and could amount to up to AU$272 million. In July, the Australian casino giant revealed that it had paid back AU$61 million to the state, including penalty interest estimated at approximately AU$24 million.
Investigations in Crown Resorts in Victoria and Western Australia Still Awaiting Reports
The investigation and a now-finalised separate Royal Commission in the state of Victoria have been established after the 2020 damning inquiry of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) into Crown Resort found that the gambling company had facilitated money laundering associated with Asian high-roller junket operators at its casino venues in Melbourne and Perth.
In August, the Royal Commission in Western Australia heard details about the controversial relationship between Michael Connolly, a former gambling regulatory chief casino officer and some members of the legal and compliance unit of Crown Resorts. Mr Connolly resigned from his position after his long-term friendship with the gambling giant’s legal and compliance officers.
Mr Ord, who was at the time the department’s director-general, explained that Mr Connolly had previously declared those relationships and chose to stand aside in order to avoid any possible perception of conflict of interest.
A full review of the gambling giant’s operations in Perth is expected to be completed soon. During the WA Royal Commission hearing, Ms Chopping shared that she was not satisfied based on the evidence that Crown Resorts was not deducting expenses for its casino in Perth improperly. She also noted that there was more work to be done in the investigation.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.