Article: ‘A harm-production factory’: Crown casino faces scrutiny over problem gambling

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‘A harm-production factory’: Crown casino faces scrutiny over problem gambling

Ben Butler,  26 March 2021

Triads, shopping bags full of cash, money laundering – if you’ve been following the inquiry into Crown Resorts run by New South Wales authorities, you might think there aren’t many allegations left to be hurled at the casino operator.

But a royal commission into the operation of the James Packer-controlled group’s flagship casino in Melbourne could expose it to fresh attack over a problem its critics have long claimed is rife at the complex: problem gambling.

Opening the inquiry on Wednesday, royal commissioner Ray Finkelstein said there was “no practical utility” in going over the same territory dealt with by the NSW inquiry, which reported to state parliament in February.

Instead, he said he planned to use the limited time he has available – he is supposed to provide a final report by August – to look into four other areas: whether money laundering is still taking place at the Melbourne casino, whether Crown is in breach of any laws or regulations, whether it has broken its contract with the state to run the casino and “most importantly, the manner in which it deals with gambling addiction”.

This means Finkelstein’s inquiry will descend from the upstairs suites where, in pre-Covid and pre-scandal times, high-rollers smoked at baccarat tables and junket operators plied their trade on the main gaming floor, an area as big as a football field crammed with poker machines and gaming tables.

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