A former Victoria gaming minister is among those calling for investigations into Crown Melbourne. Tony Robinson made the call after the casino was accused of links with Chinse organised crime.
Robinson, who served in Labour premier John Brumby’s government in the late 2000s, demanded the state’s regulator investigate the matter. He said that, should the allegations be true, they would besmirch the gambling and liquor regulation commission’s reputation.
Illegal Gambling Promotion and Worse
The allegations first appeared in newspapers and on a current affairs TV show owned by media company Nine. The allegations claim that thousands of internal documents reveal that the casino’s links with the organisers of gambling promotion junkets put it in cahoots with organised crime in China.
The junkets target high rollers, and they attempt to convince them to gamble at the venue. Except for Macau, gambling in China is illegal. Other allegations contained in the reports were that the cousin of Chinese president Xi Jinping was on an aircraft that was searched by police in connection with money laundering and that it is putting its Chinese staff at risk after it was warned authorities had renewed their focus on illegal gambling promotion. It also was alleged that proper home affairs procedures are being neglected for players from China.
The accusations linking the casino to crime even reached the federal parliament. Greens MP Adam Bandt asked prime minister Scott Morrison whether any ministers or officials had acted improperly. In response, Morrison said that he had not received any information to that effect.
The home affairs addressed the claim that it gave Chinese players special treatment, something that would not even have been a concern if they had arrived to play Australian online pokies. According to reports, a spokesperson said that the only arrangement allowed players travelling by plane to by-pass international airport terminals. However, those players still are subject to the same border clearance requirements they would need to meet if they had travelled via an international terminal. The spokesperson confirmed that the arrangement has existed since before 2016.
The lower house heard more allegations levelled against Crown Melbourne when MP Andrew Wilkie quoted a former casino driver’s claims about what he saw while working for the establishment. According to Wilkie, the driver alleged that the players he transported from planes completely by-passed border security checks. He also alleged that he saw women subjected to verbal and physical abuse and that drugs such as cocaine and MDMA were freely available. His allegations were denied by the casino.
Attorney General Gets Involved
The state’s gambling regulator chief, Catherine Myers, said its ongoing investigation of the casino’s Chinese operations had gone on for two years. Although she said nothing about investigating the recent allegations, she did say that the regulator would work with those of other states to determine whether it should take action against the establishment.
Despite the regulator’s assurance, attorney-general Christian Porter announced that he launched a law enforcement integrity probe into the casino.