Crown’s Flagship Casino License on Review as Pressure Mounts

Crown Resorts Ltd. license to operate its flagship Melbourne casino will be reviewed earlier than planned after an inquiry in Sydney exposed wide-ranging governance and anti-money laundering failures.

A dedicated commissioner at Victoria’s gaming regulator will investigate Crown’s suitability to hold the state’s only casino license, the Victorian government said Thursday. The report is due in 2021.

The probe adds to scrutiny of a gaming company already under pressure to tighten controls. A separate inquiry this year in Sydney, where Crown is poised to open a $1.5 billion casino resort, revealed wide-ranging dysfunction and oversight lapses, and showed the board secretly gave special treatment to billionaire shareholder James Packer.

“We’re making sure Crown Melbourne conducts its business in a transparent and appropriate manner,” said Melissa Horne, Victoria’s minister for consumer affairs, gaming and liquor regulation. “The government will take any appropriate and necessary action,” it said, adding that evidence from the Sydney probe was “concerning.”

Shares of Crown fell as much as 1.2% in Sydney before trading down 0.7% at A$9.78 at 10:16 a.m. The stock has lost 18% this year.

Crown said in a separate statement it “will continue to work cooperatively” with the Victorian state regulator to support its review.

Crown, which has already delayed the opening of its Sydney casino, said yesterday it expects to start non-gaming operations at the waterfront site from Dec. 28.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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