Regulator issued its largest fine against the country’s largest casino
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has issued its largest fine against Melbourne’s Crown casino for its alleged tampering with poker machines. The $225,000 fine was levied against the casino for hiding buttons on 17 gaming machines, so that only minimum and maximum betting options were shown to the user.
"This is the largest fine the commission has issued to Crown and reflects the seriousness with which it considers the matter," the Commission said in a statement.
The casino had initiated a trial period in which buttons on the gaming machines were covered for a period of three and half weeks in March and April, 2017. Crown casino states that the trial period did not affect the returns for any user.
Crown casino failed to obtain prior approval from the Commission beforehand, and was therefore found to be in violation of Australia’s Gambling Regulation Act.
"While Crown Melbourne's position throughout this process was that the Gaming Machine Trial did not require the prior approval of the Commission, Crown Melbourne respects the Commission's decision, which brings this process to a close," representatives for the casino said in response to the fine.
The Commission issued the fine against Crown while acknowledging the fact that the casino did not intend on contravening the law and that they cooperated fully with the investigation. The fine was issued to act as a reminder to casino’s to obtain approval before initiating trial periods for testing gaming machines.
Crown casino has a history of questionable practices. Last year MP Andrew Wilkie released statements from a whistleblower to Parliament who made similar allegations of altered machines and flouting of regulations. The whistleblower added credence to the claims of three former Crown casino employees who made allegations of deliberate tampering of gaming machines for increased profit. The former employees claimed that they were ordered to remove three out of five play options on a poker machine, so that only the minimum bet and the maximum betting option was available. At the time, Crown casino denied all allegations of the former employees.
MP Wilkie, who initiated the campaign to expose illegal practices in the gambling industry, expressed concern that the fine against Crown casino was simply not enough: “I expect the commission and the police to diligently probe these matters. It would be completely unacceptable to the community if they take the casino’s explanations at face value or continue to hand out slap-on-the-wrist fines,” he said.
Crown casino, located in Melbourne, is the largest casino in Australia and the largest casino in the southern hemisphere. Check out a list of other extravagant casinos here.