casino floor
Crown currently operate two Australian Casinos: Crown Perth and Crown Melbourne. Image: Kvnga, Unsplash
  • Inquiry called in light of the Bergin Report
  • GWC's inquiry will have the same powers as a royal commission
  • GWC has established a working group with their NSW and VIC counterparts

The Inquiry was called after NSW’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) last week deemed Crown ‘unsuitable’ to hold a casino licence upon the release of the Bergin Report. This is despite the $2.2 billion Crown Barangaroo tower in Sydney already being opened with the casino area decked out and ready for operations.

Upon the ILGA’s announcement, pressure mounted on regulators in Victoria and Western Australia regarding their respective licences with Crown.

The Gaming and Wagering Commission of WA (GWC) – a part of the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries – has recommended an independent inquiry under the Casino Control Act 1984 to be held relating to Crown Perth.

The inquiry, rather uniquely, will have the powers of a Royal Commission, a step above the powers normally held by the GWC when investigating.

Specifically, the GWC hopes the inquiry can determine the following:

  • Crown’s suitability to hold a casino gaming operator licence
  • Suitability of ‘close associates’
  • Appropriateness of Crown’s responses to the Commission prior to and during the Bergin Inquiry
  • How effective the GWC and the parent Department were in discharging their duties, including any potential conflict of interest
  • Legislative amendments or other regulatory controls that could address issues raised in the Bergin report

In a statement, the GWC acknowledged the serious issues raised in the report and remarked that have been cooperating with the Bergin Inquiry and following the release of the Inquiry’s findings the GWC immediately sought advice from the WA State Solicitors’ Office. The advice has led to the GWC recommending its own independent inquiry.

Crown Perth was originally opened in 1985 as the Burswood Island Casino and upon opening was one of the largest in the world at the time.

In 2004 Kerry Packer, through Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL), of which he was the principal shareholder of, fully acquired the casino and resort.  After PBL’s gaming interests were vested into Crown Limited, significant rebranding and developments have occurred under the helm of his son, James Packer.

Crown has been accused in recent times of facilitating money laundering and the luring of gamblers overseas via unlicensed junket operators, which influenced the Bergin Inquiry.

GWC is confident no junkets have taken place since borders closed in March 2020 although just prior to this a junket arrived from Macau. The GWC said the last junket from mainland China was in November 2016.

In their statement, the GWS remarked it has reached out to their counterparts in New South Wales and Victoria to establish a working group to provide more consistency nationally.

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