GWC May Call For Crown Perth Licence Cancellation

GWC threatens to ask for the cancelation of Crown Perth's casino licence

The Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC) is watching the Crown Perth royal commission developments like a hawk. GWC lawyer, Paul Evans, revealed GWC might ask Racing and Gaming Minister Reece Whitby to cancel Crown Perth’s casino licence even before the commission releases its verdict.

Part 2 of the Crown Perth Casino Royal Commission heard opening statements on July 26. Witness statements begin on July 28. Patricia Cahill, counsel assisting, highlighted several key areas of interest. These include:

  • The company’s response to the arrest of its staff in China in 2016
  • Management, or lack of, regarding problem gambling
  • Crown’s corporate culture and the operation of Crown companies
  • Whether or not Crown has made suitable changes following the Bergin inquiry
  • Money laundering and criminal infiltration
  • If Crown influenced policies around electronic gaming machines
  • The loosening of junket regulations

Mr Evans informed the inquiry that GWC could jump the gun and demand action before the royal commission ends. The regulator has severe issues with Crown’s underpayment of tax to the WA government. Furthermore, it does not believe Crown has been honest in its communications with the GWC.

Speaking to the inquiry, Mr Evans said. “The GWC will not necessarily await these conclusions if matters disclosed give rise to a need to take action immediately.”

GWC Has Until March 22 To Wait

The GWC flexed its muscles only days after the Victorian Government granted the Perth Casino Royal Commission an extension to March 22. Mid-November 2021 was the date pencilled in for the final report. That will not happen until at least March 22 following this extension.

“The timeline for the delivery of the Perth Casino Royal Commission’s final report has been extended to March 4, 2022, following a request from Commissioners for more time to carry out their investigations.

“The Royal Commission has requested more time to ensure its activities properly serve the public interest and produce and final report and recommendations in line with the State Government and public’s expectations.”

GWC failed to comment on the extension.

The royal commission into Crowth’s Melbourne property and affairs received an extension early this month. Its final report is due October 15, 2021, instead of the planned August 1, 2021. In addition to the extension, the Victorian Government more than doubled the commission’s budget to $19.75 million.

Crown’s share price tumbled by almost 5.2 per cent to $9.50 per share on the back of the GWC threat.

Star Entertainment Withdraws Merger Proposal

The negativity surrounding Crown has left investment companies and rivals circling like vultures, each hoping to bag a deal. Star Entertainment Group threw its hat into the ring on May 10, offering a merger between the two Australian gambling giants. That offer no longer stands.

“Crown notes the announcement by The Star Entertainment Group Limited this morning that The Star has unilaterally decided to withdraw its conditional, non-binding, indicative proposal to merge with Crown as announced May 10, 2021.

“Crown remains willing to engage with The Star in relation to a potential merger on terms acceptable to both Crown and The Star.

“The Board is committed to maximising value for all Crown shareholders and will carefully consider any proposal that is consistent with this objective.

“Crown is continuing to implement Reform Agenda. Crown will also continue to fully cooperate in relation to the various regulatory processes.”

Star shareholders reacted negatively to the news, with shares falling more than 2.8 per cent. The Star revealed it had limited engagement from Crown regarding the merger proposal. Furthermore, it is worried the ongoing royal commissions have “the potential to materially impact the value of Crown.” Star has concerns regarding whether or not Crown will continue to have a valid casino licence. It may not if the GWC gets its way.