Crown Resorts Will Cease All Junket Operations

Crown Resorts Will Cease All Junket Operations
The logo of Australian casino giant Crown Resorts Ltd in Melbourne, Australia, June 13, 2017. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

Crown Resorts has declared it will stop dealing with all junket operations as it continues its bid to persuade the NSW gaming regulator that the public company is fit to run a new $2.2 billion casino in Sydney.

“The Board has determined that Crown will permanently cease dealing with all junket operators, subject to consultation with gaming regulators in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales,” the company said in an ASX media release on Nov. 17.

Crown said it would only recommence dealing with a junket operator if it was licensed or otherwise approved or sanctioned by all gaming regulators in states where the company operates.

It also said the consultation with gaming regulators in Victoria, Western Australia and NSW had begun.

Media reports in 2019 alleged that Crown’s casinos had been used for money laundering and that junket tour operators Crown had relationships with had links to organised crime

After months of damning testimony, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold the Barangaroo casino licence is in its final week of hearings.

Counsel assisting the inquiry has suggested Crown did not apply high enough probity standards when evaluating its business partners.

The inquiry was partly brought about because of an agreement by James Packer’s private company to sell 19.99 percent of Crown stock to Melco Resorts, which is owned by businessman Lawrence Ho.

The regulator had banned Crown from letting Ho’s father, Stanley, acquire an interest because of his underworld links.

Crown’s lawyers argued on Monday that its business in China complied with legal advice the company had received by external lawyers, despite the fact that 16 of its staff were arrested by Chinese authorities in 2016 on accusations they had violated Chinese anti-gambling laws.

Counsel assisting the inquiry has recommended findings that Crown and Packer are not presently fit to be associated with the new casino.

The inquiry commissioner is expected to issue a report in February 2021.

By Hannah Ryan and Gus McCubbing in Sydney
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