Crown Resorts is waiting for the New South Wales (NSW) gaming regulator to complete its investigation and make a decision on whether Crown Resorts is suitable to operate its $2.2 billion brand new Crown Barangaroo casino resort in Sydney, NSW.
While NSW is carrying out its investigation, the Victorian gaming regulator decided to launch an investigation of its own into Crown Melbourne – the flagship casino of Crown Resorts. This investigation is far from complete as it only commenced in December.
However, initial findings don’t look too good for Crown Melbourne or Crown Resorts. As of now, it appears that Crown Resorts is one step closer to losing its Crown Melbourne casino license.
Crown Resorts is being investigated in NSW for a number of reasons, one of the main ones being ties to junket operators who had links to the criminal underworld. The Victorian regulator had similar concerns and it appears those concerns are genuine.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has reported that Crown Melbourne was involved in atleast 300 criminal transactions that were carried out by junket operators. Crown Resorts is required to report all suspicious transactions but it appears that these transactions have not been highlighted to the financial watchdog.
Crown Melbourne has been hit with multiple allegations over the last few years of blatantly breaching gaming regulation in Victoria and encouraging criminal activities. Crown Melbourne is alleged to have sent in 50,000 reports to the financial crimes watchdog in 2019 and 5,000 of these reports had links to money laundering.
The fact that Crown Melbourne has not reported over 300 suspicious transactions will not bode well for Crown Resorts. Crown Melbourne relies on a business model where the bulk of its revenues are generated by VIP gamblers.
These VIP gamblers are brought in by junket operators who are directly tied up with Crown Resorts. A number of junket operators have ties to the criminal underworld in Asia.
How Do Junket Operators Work?
Since most of the VIP gamblers come from China, they have limited access to cash due to the foreign currency laws that China has imposed specifically to prevent gamblers from taking out loads of cash from China.
Junket operators provide VIP gamblers with a solution as they allow these high stake players to borrow money from them in Australia and pay it back to them in China. Criminal organizations use these junket operators to wash their dirty money. We will have to wait and see if Crown Melbourne gets a break or loses its license.