Blaming the regulator is a distraction, Crown Casino is to blame for its own mess


Breaking promises has consequences, and Crown Resorts and its Melbourne Casino are under the microscope because they chose to break theirs to the government about how they would run the casino. Not because there weren’t enough people keeping watch.

It’s like a kid stealing from the cookie jar, and now they’ve run out of cookies, they’re trying to blame mum for leaving the lid off and not slapping their hand.

The list of cookies covers tax rorts, paltry funding for responsible gambling, chips charged to credit cards and a spectacularly cavalier attitude to the promises the company agreed to when granted a license to operate.

It’s quite the list and amounts to an inside job of brand sabotage.

Royal Commissioner into Crown Resorts, Ray Finkelstein, said of the Melbourne casino, “Wherever I look I see not just bad conduct but illegal conduct, improper conduct, unacceptable conduct, and it permeates the whole organisation.”

Perhaps Crown doesn’t deserve to operate if the business model and people are so corrupt that intense supervision is the only way to ensure they don’t continually break the law. And then they do it anyway.

With its licence to operate a casino in jeopardy, Crown Resorts sent a letter to the Victorian gaming minister Melissa Horne, saying in part: “This will impact on Crown’s shareholders, employees, unions, trade creditors, patrons, the hotel precinct and the Melbourne tourism industry.”

Yes, broken promises have consequences and they often disproportionately affect others. But it’s too late to think about them when you’re out of cookies and about to have the jar taken away.

So, with regulators crawling all over and public scrutiny ramped up to 11, it’s unsurprising to see Crown claim culture change is well underway. There’s even a new person in charge of the cookie jar. Steven Blackburn, Crown’s new chief compliance and financial crimes officer, took on the internal watchdog role in March and testified he’s “pleased by the genuine efforts”. 

I don’t buy it. Even if culture change is possible, it takes years of concerted efforts and still doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of what is needed when the fundamental nature of the business model is what’s broken. 

When money is both the product and the result — with making more the incentive — I struggle to see how they separate the behaviours from a business solely aimed at that end. It will take more than good efforts, a few new people and longer than a couple of months.

There’s a long road ahead if Crown Resorts and the Melbourne Casino are to regain the government’s confidence and public support, and in effect rebuild their social capital to operate — assuming they first survive the interventions proposed by the Royal Commission.


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4 months ago

Cant believe the inside job that cost $12M was not discussed, the alleged walked.