Ozzie Crown Resorts Hit For Six, Again, Sent Packing For Tax Evasion, Money Laundering, Etc.
Hit for six, the big Australian casino clean-up continues; with Crown Resorts, the nation’s premier land-based operator, being fined a whopping A$20 million (£10.72m/US$13.77m) for tax evasion at its integrated casino resort in Melbourne, Victoria state.
Empowered by a Royal Commission, this is the fourth time the regulatory Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC)–and its precursor, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation–has hammered the Crown group for tax evasion, money laundering and responsible gambling failures.
In all, the VGCCC has imposed fines totalling A$250 million (£134.03m/US$172.17m) on the Ozzie casino and resort behemoth, which also owns legendary London Mayfair casino Aspinalls, or “Aspers”.
Last year, they issued fines totalling A$200 million (£107.23m/US$137.73m) on Crown, for its historic record of failing to prevent gambling harm — and illegally allowing punters on junkets to gamble using China Union Pay credit and debit cards.
And only last month, Crown’s new owners, US-based Blackstone venture capitalists–who snapped up the wounded, scandal-wracked giant for a bargain US$8.9 billion (A$12.92bn/£6.92bn) in June, 2022–agreed to pay Australia’s Organised Crime Financial Agency a penalty of A$450 million (£241.27m/US$309.9m) for historic anti-money laundering failures at its Melbourne and Perth casinos between 2013-2021.
Referring to the latest A$20 million fine, VGCCC Chair Fran Thorn charged: “Not only did Crown breach its obligations by claiming tax deductions to which it was not entitled, Crown also made significant efforts at concealment.
“[We] will not tolerate this behaviour. We expect licensees to comply with their tax obligations and to be transparent in their dealings with us.
“This fine sends an important message to other gambling operators about the importance of complying with their obligations to pay gambling taxes, and the need for frank and open dealings with the regulator.
“Crown and other gaming licensees have important obligations to pay gaming taxes to the state.”
Crown Melbourne CEO Mike Volkert has meekly acknowledged the swingeing sanctions.
“These historical breaches, decisions and actions have no place at Crown,” he conceded.
“Under new ownership and leadership, we are committed to an open, constructive, and transparent relationship with our regulators and stakeholders, as well as improving internal controls and our regulatory reporting requirements.
“Our ‘Future Crown’ program is driving whole-of-company reform and we are focused on building a Crown that exceeds the expectations of our stakeholders and the community.
“This practice ceased in 2021 and Crown has since made the required payments to meet its casino tax obligations.”
Ex-majority shareholder James Packer, the billionaire owner of Consolidated Press Holdings, who sold his 38 percent stake in Crown Resorts to Blackstone, will be mightily relieved.
Unlike his controversial father, who initiated the abortive Kerry Packer Cricket “Circus”, he’s avoided being hit for yet another financial six.