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Australia Crown allowed gamblers credit, Perth Casino Royal Commission told, despite it being illegal

01:48  05 august  2021
01:48  05 august  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

Perth Casino Royal Commission chair says personal connections to witnesses not a ‘conflict of interest'

  Perth Casino Royal Commission chair says personal connections to witnesses not a ‘conflict of interest' Neville Owen, a former senior Supreme Court of Western Australia appeals judge, made the statement on Monday as the commission started a block of hearings which will grill current and former Crown Perth staff and board directors.The ex-judge leading Perth's royal commission into the Burswood casino run by Crown Resorts has revealed his personal connections to three witnesses called to front proceedings but does not believe any are a conflict of interest.

Crown Perth approved credit for both international and Australian gamblers , despite it being illegal in Western Australia, the Perth Casino Royal Commission has heard. Key points: Crown Perth executive Lonni Bossi said he approved credit to gamblers . Under WA laws, Crown Perth is not allowed to provide credit for gambling . Questions have also been asked on strategies against problem gambling . And notorious brothel owner Simon Pan, who has also been investigated for human trafficking, was banned from Crown Melbourne in August 2019

Crown Perth approved credit for both international and Australian gamblers , despite it being illegal in Western Australia, the Perth Casino Royal Commission has heard. The commission was told that earlier that year, former Crown legal boss Joshua Preston had written to WA ’ s chief casino officer Michael Connolly about making an amendment to the Crown Perth casino manual to allow CUP transactions. Ms Cahill said the casino watchdog, the Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC), was approached about changing the manual and later approved the amendments in May 2016.

a sign in front of a building: One gambler was allowed into Crown Perth 29 times after being banned from Crown Melbourne. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor) © Provided by ABC NEWS One gambler was allowed into Crown Perth 29 times after being banned from Crown Melbourne. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor)

Crown Perth approved credit for both international and Australian gamblers, despite it being illegal in Western Australia, the Perth Casino Royal Commission has heard.

And notorious brothel owner Simon Pan, who has also been investigated for human trafficking, was banned from Crown Melbourne in August 2019, yet was allowed to enter Crown Perth 29 times afterwards.

Giving evidence, Crown Perth chief executive Lonnie Bossi said  this happened because until recently, the information could not be shared between the two casinos.

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The royal commission also heard that Crown Perth had been planning to roll out a China UnionPay system, where Chinese gamblers could use a Chinese credit card to transfer money to the casino . This system had the approval of the gambling watchdog, but did not go ahead due to the arrests of The commission was also told that Bossi was a signatory on the Riverbank bank account, which earlier this year the Bergin inquiry found was used to allegedly launder hundreds of millions of dollars. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group closed its Riverbank account in 2014 amid concerns it

The royal commission has previously been told that Crown Perth had offered Mr Petkov membership to the high-roller Pearl Room, which would allow him to gamble bigger sums. On Friday, it heard that Mr Petkov was only barred from the casino at his own request in February 2018. It was Mr Bossi's second time in the witness stand at the royal commission . He was Crown Perth 's chief operating officer from 2013 and was appointed chief executive in December. At his last appearance, the royal commission was told that problem gamblers were responsible for up to 60 per cent of all the money

"What's stopping Crown Melbourne picking up the phone or sending an email that says Mr John Smith ought to be barred from Crown Perth, full stop?" counsel assisting the royal commission Patricia Cahill asked.

Mr Bossi said while that would happen today, "there wasn't a requirement to do that at the time."

Mr Bossi, who was the casino's operations manager from 2011 until being appointed chief executive in December, told the royal commission he approved credit to gamblers.

Under WA's Gaming and Wagering Commission Act, the casino is not allowed to provide credit for gambling.

China UnionPay system planned

Not only did Crown Perth give credit to gamblers, it also planned to roll out a China UnionPay (CUP) system, involving a Chinese credit card that Chinese gamblers could use to transfer money to the casino, and with the approval of the gambling watchdog.

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Crown Resorts will be allowed to keep its licence to run the lucrative Melbourne casino , under strict new conditions, despite a royal commission finding the company had engaged in “ illegal , dishonest, unethical and exploitative” conduct. In his report, tabled in Victorian parliament on Tuesday, the commissioner Rules forcing the state to pay compensation to Crown if it changes casino regulation in a way unfavourable to the company will be removed. Finkelstein, a former federal court judge, also found attempts by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation – which is to lose

Crown Perth received approval from the casino watchdog and WA Police to allow the Pearl Room to open when the main gaming floor was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Perth Casino Royal Commission has been told . Key points: A casino manager has said Crown did not breach any lockdown rules. The Pearl Room is Crown Perth 's invite-only high-roller facility, with patrons required to have a minimum turnover of 0,000 per year. Mr Lee said Crown Perth notified the casino watchdog, the Gaming and Wagering Commission , about its opening of the Pearl Room after the

But the royal commission heard the Crown Perth plan did not go ahead because of the 2016 arrests of Crown staff in China.

The commission was told that earlier that year, former Crown legal boss Joshua Preston had written to WA's chief casino officer Michael Connolly about making an amendment to the Crown Perth casino manual to allow CUP transactions.

Ms Cahill said the casino watchdog, the Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC), was approached about changing the manual and later approved the amendments in May 2016.

Mr Bossi said he was not involved in the submission, had not engaged in "a lack of candour" in dealings with the casino watchdog and his investigations had not uncovered any CUP transactions at Crown Perth.

Bossi a signatory on Riverbank account

The commission was told Mr Bossi was a signatory on the Riverbank bank account, which the Bergin inquiry found was used to allegedly launder hundreds of millions of dollars.

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The royal commission is examining Crown 's suitability to hold WA ' s only casino licence. (ABC News: Andrew O'Connor). One of the royal commission 's terms of reference is whether the casino watchdog, the Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC), along with the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) adequately managed any conflicts Crown Perth approved credit for gamblers , royal commission told , despite it being illegal . Perth Casino Royal Commission interim report investigates 'informal, lax' process for investigating conflicts of interest.

The royal commission was told that between 2007 and 2013, Mr McGregor was a director and secretary for Riverbank Investments Pty Ltd, a company that existed to hold bank accounts to take deposits from gamblers who did not want their bankers to know they were gambling . The Bergin inquiry found Crown Resorts had facilitated money laundering through Crown Perth via Riverbank accounts. Mr McGregor — who has overseen Crown Perth 's finances since 2007, bar 16 months in 2013 and 2014 — told the royal commission that he and other senior executives involved with

The ANZ closed its Riverbank account in 2014, citing concerns it was being used for money laundering, and the CBA followed in 2019.

When asked if he had inquired why the CBA had closed the account, Mr Bossi said he "actually didn't recall being a signatory" on the account.

"The bank account had now been closed by two banks, the Riverbank, and you're still not alive to any concerns to find out the reason why?" Ms Cahill puit to him.

"A number of years had passed and I wasn't involved in the banking work that was going. In hindsight, a wonderful thing, I should have inquired further than I did," Mr Bossi answered.

Problem gambling strategies examined

Another focus of the questioning on Wednesday was how Crown Perth met its responsibilities to mitigate problem gambling.

Problem gamblers account for a significant proportion of Crown Perth's revenue from electronic gaming machines (EGMs), the inquiry was told.

The royal commission was told about a Crown Perth strategic plan outlining that problem gamblers spent between 22 and 60 per cent of all money on EGMs.

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Mr Bossi said he had long understood that EGMs were a bigger risk of harming gamblers than any other type of casino gambling.

The inquiry heard that EGMs delivered significant profits for the casino.

A letter from former Crown legal boss Joshua Preston to the former chair of the gambling watchdog, Duncan Chair, outlined that more than $180 million in profit from $285 million in revenue was earned by Crown Perth's electronic gaming machines in 2018.

But just $1 million was spent on responsible gambling strategies.

Mr Bossi said they had since doubled their spending on these strategies, but it was still inadequate.

Poker machines are banned in Western Australia and EGMs are only allowed at Crown Perth.

But the royal commission was told in a previous hearing that the number of EGMs had increased from 285 in 1985 to around 2,500 now.

Data not used to flag problem gamblers

The royal commission was told how Crown Perth casino collected extensive data on its customers and used it for marketing campaigns, but not to identify problem gamblers.

Ms Cahill said Crown Perth's loyalty cards collected the data, from how frequently and how long patrons gambled to how fast they played EGMs.

But Mr Bossi said while Crown Perth's loyalty cards were primarily used to collect data on the behaviour of patrons, it could be difficult to identify problem gamblers.

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As far back as 2015, the casino's responsible gambling team had suggested setting criteria for problem gamblers and using the data to identify them – but six years later, this was yet to happen.

"We should have set them. I beg your pardon. We should have set them. I have no explanation, no excuse for that," he said.


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Crown chair faces WA royal commission .
Crown's departing executive chair Helen Coonan has told a Perth royal commission she won't rule out maintaining informal involvement with the company.Ms Coonan, who will step down by the end of the month, has also backed a stronger West Australian presence on the Crown Resorts board as the state inquiry considers whether the company should retain its Perth casino licence.

usr: 1
This is interesting!