Crown Resorts Set To Expand Its Casino Oversight after Regulator Meeting

James Packer
James Packer and Brett Ratner at the Los Angeles premiere of "Hercules" held at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, USA on July 23, 2014.

James Packer’s Crown Resorts is taking new steps to improve oversight at its casinos. The company is proposing to make directors more responsible for its flagship casino based in Melbourne after a state government investigation found issues. The government said that the gaming giant doesn’t fare well in monitoring and intervening with problem gambling.

The officials from the Victorian gambling watchdog met last month at Crown’s Southbank casino and confirmed that the company had submitted a program of reforms. The document said that the company would now make its independent directors “fully engage” in its proactive strategic oversight in the biggest casino of the country.

The annual meeting between the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) was the first time since the regulator’s five-yearly review of Crown took place. The review checked the company’s suitability to hold the sole casino license in the state. The company’s executives were also present at the meeting. The regulator has confirmed that Crown is a suitable party to hold the licensed but pointed out a series of shortcomings with the operators.

It stressed that the Crown needs to make improvements to its management and governance to meet its commitment to leading responsible gaming practices. The regulator said in its report that it was “not confident” that Crown has enough staff to intervene or offer assistance to problem gamblers. The casino usually intervenes when a gambler spends 16 or 24 hours continuously, which they considered “very conservative” and not in terms with responsible gambling awareness.

The regulator also said that the casino also needs to improve its regulations related to money-laundering risks and prevention of criminals and problem gamblers who were slapped with “exclusion orders” from the casino premises. VCGLR also confirmed that the casino is now improving its board procedure in response to their findings.

Crown is set to create a new charter for directors and ensure that the board committee chair was “properly qualified.” It would also develop a “risk appetite with proper monitoring” that will help in improving the institutional governance of the company. The board of the company currently includes Helen Coonan, a former federal minister, Andrew Demetriou, former AFL boss and businessmen Geoff Dixon and Harold Mitchell.

Crown is also working on a recommendation to give the regulator greater visibility on decision-making relationships and reporting between all the boards, executive meetings, and committees.

The VCGLR is currently considering Crown’s response to two recommendations and said that the remaining 18 recommendations are not due for completion yet. Crown’s executive chairman John Alexander said that the annual meeting went very well, noting that the company is making progress and has accepted all 20 recommendations. One of such recommendations is to roll out facial-recognition security cameras at entrance points by July 1.