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Crown Approved to Retain its Melbourne Licence

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Crown Approved to Retain its Melbourne Licence
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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has ruled Australian casino giant Crown Resorts can keep its Crown Melbourne casino licence.

The full Commission decided that Crown Melbourne has addressed the failings identified by the 2021 Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence.

Commission Chair Fran Thorn said that the Royal Commission detailed how Crown Melbourne had breached its legal, social and moral obligations, resulting in illegal activities, tax avoidance, money laundering, criminal associations and significant harm to vulnerable community members, ultimately finding Crown Melbourne unsuitable to hold the Melbourne Casino Licence.

“Despite the enormity of its findings, the Finkelstein Royal Commission recommended Crown be permitted to continue operating under stringent independent oversight conditions for two years, determining it had the will and capacity to transform itself to again become suitable, which would be to Victoria’s benefit,” she said.

The Victorian Government responded decisively to the Royal Commission’s findings, appointing a Special Manager to oversee Crown Melbourne’s operations and remediation. It also established the VGCCC as a new regulator focussed solely on the gambling industry and created a specific set of enhanced powers with respect to the Melbourne casino.

The Commission was given the responsibility of deciding whether it was clearly satisfied that Crown Melbourne had returned to suitability and whether the Melbourne Casino Licence remained in the public interest. In making its independent determination, the Commission carefully considered the reports of the Royal Commission and other relevant inquiries, the reports of the Special Manager. Those reports considered the steps Crown Melbourne had taken to address the matters identified by the Royal Commission and the measures to ensure they would not be repeated.

Commissioner Thorn said the Special Manager’s final report concluded that Crown Melbourne has remediated the failings exposed in the Royal Commission and established the critical foundations needed to achieve sustainable overall transformation in coming years.

“There was no evidence of maladministration or illegal or improper conduct indicative of the serious and systemic failures previously identified by the Royal Commission, and these failings had been addressed,” she said.

Commissioner Thorn said that Crown Melbourne had demonstrated to the satisfaction of both the Commission and the Special Manager that it had introduced extensive reforms to prevent or reduce gambling harm, financial crime and money laundering. It has also addressed systemic risk management failures and strengthened its integrity framework.

“During our investigations, we observed a different Crown Melbourne emerging with a clear understanding of the privilege and obligations of holding the Melbourne Casino Licence,” she said.

The Commission’s decision was also supported by Crown Melbourne’s comprehensive transformation plan, required by the Special Manager, against which it will continue to be held accountable going forward.

“That transformation plan will be at the heart of our oversight, along with Crown’s legal and social obligations, and provides the next level standard for Crown Melbourne. The Commission will require Crown Melbourne to deliver further transformation through a statutory direction that will be issued shortly,” she said.

Along with the VGCCC’s strengthened oversight regime and enforcement powers, the VGCCC has established a new, specialist Casino Division providing confidence that Crown Melbourne will be held stringently accountable in the future, including for its ongoing transformation.

Commissioner Thorn said: “In return for the privilege of an exclusive licence, Victorians have a right to expect that Crown Melbourne will never again prioritise profit ahead of the safety and wellbeing of its patrons and staff or over compliance with its legal and social obligations.

“Crown Melbourne must continue to seek to rebuild and earn public trust by demonstrating the good character, honesty and integrity that are necessary to remain a suitable casino operator. We put Crown on notice that this Commission will not hesitate to act if the privilege of holding the casino licence is again abused.”

Australia

VGCCC Introduces New Rules for Wagering Account Statements

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has introduced new standards for how activity statements should be presented to wagering account holders. The new standards require providers to use plain English and avoid unnecessary vocabulary. The use of colours is limited to black and red to represent losses.

The VGCCC took the measure after finding inconsistencies in the way information was displayed on sample activity statements across different providers. Account holders must be able to see how much of their own money they have lost, with free and bonus bets excluded from the net loss figures. Net wins must be shown with stakes deducted. The gambling harm taglines that appear at the end of wagering ads must be displayed on each statement.

The new standards came into force on April 1. Failure to comply could result in a penalty of 60 penalty units, equivalent to AU$11,538.60 for each non-compliant activity statement issued.

VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt AM said: “The days of inconsistent player activity statements are over. Wagering account holders will be better informed about their spending – and therefore better equipped to make informed decisions about their gambling – thanks to the clarity and fairness these changes bring.”

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Australia

Swifts Join the Fight Against Gambling Harm

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NSW Swifts and Giants have joined the NSW Government’s Reclaim the Game initiative.

Under the initiative, the Swifts and Giants will turn down sports betting sponsorship for the next two years, and will educate fans, players and staff about gambling harm in the community through messaging at home games and on digital and social media.

Reclaim the Game works with a total of 13 partners across 18 teams in six codes, including netball, AFL, A-League, cricket, NBL and NRL.

Since its launch in 2020, the initiative has reached millions of sports fans through more than 260 games, both on TV and in stadiums.

Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris said: “It is fantastic to see more NSW teams join Reclaim the Game and raise community awareness of harms linked to sports betting and gambling. These partnerships are a strong reminder that you don’t need to have a bet to show support for your team.

“Netball ranks among Australia’s top sports, boasting more than 1.2 million players nationwide and is also the top choice for female athletes.

“The new partnerships with netball come at the perfect time as community interest in women’s sport soars with record nationwide participation in the sport and the Diamonds reclaiming the World Cup in South Africa.

“Elite players are role models for young athletes and fans. The Reclaim the Game partnerships with NSW Swifts and Giants Netball will engage a vast young fan base, ensuring they are protected from betting ads and can develop positive associations with sport.”

Netball NSW CEO Tracey Scott said: “On behalf of Netball NSW, I am delighted to welcome Reclaim the Game to our family across the NSW Swifts and the Giants Netball.

“Alongside some of NSW’s other cherished sporting teams and codes, we are proud to join Reclaim the Game which looks to reconnect fans with their love of the games they follow.

“As the most popular community sport in the state, and the leading elite female code, we are committed to playing a role in educating our fans, participants and the broader community about the risks associated with gambling and the harm it can cause.

“The joy of our game is its theatre, especially at Super Netball level when the NSW Swifts and GIANTS Netball go head-to-head with the world’s best, and we always look to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone to immerse themselves into the excitement of our game.”

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Australia

VGCCC Fines Bookmaker MintBet $100,000 for Repeat Breaches of its Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has fined Victorian registered bookmaker MintBet $100,000 for repeated breaches of its Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct (Code) in relation to extended periods of gambling by a customer. The customer gambled through their online account with MintBet for 35 hours in a period of approximately 50 hours.

By the end of the customer’s betting period, they had placed 327 bets and lost $31,149.

The Commission found that MintBet did not stop accepting bets from the customer despite the customer displaying indicators of distress that may be related to problem gambling, as required by their Code.

MintBet closed the customer’s account only when the customer actively identified they were experiencing harm from their gambling.

The Commission also found that although MintBet had some systems in place to ensure vulnerable individuals do not experience a loss of control from their gambling, they were inadequate, also breaching a requirement of their Code.

In addition to issuing a fine, MintBet will be required to respond to the VGCCC about what improvements it will be making to its systems and processes. The VGCCC will consider MintBet’s response and determine whether further action might be necessary.

VGCCC Deputy CEO Scott May said: “Victorian gambling providers must comply with their responsible gambling codes of conduct. They exist to protect people from gambling harm. Even if accepting bets online, providers must monitor for and intervene when customers are displaying indicators of distress. Gambling for an extended period is a key indicator of distress that may indicate problem gambling. There are serious consequences for any gambling provider that fails to comply with their own responsible gambling code of conduct. We won’t tolerate it.”

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