New Raft of Laws Restrict Gambling at Crown Melbourne

Gambling at Crown Resorts' Melbourne property faces severe restrictions following the introduction of a raft of new rules and laws.

Many thought the Blackstone Group acquisition of Crown Resorts would have ended the long-running saga involving the Australian casino giant. Those who thought that are wrong because the fallout from the Bergin Inquiry continues. Crown Melbourne faces a raft of new laws restricting gambling at the Victoria property, including limit cash transactions.

Everyone knows pokies are the lifeblood of most casinos. This is especially the case with Crown Resorts’ businesses, particularly in Melbourne and Perth. Revenue from pokies counted $23.4 million of the $97.1 million of total Crown Melbourne revenue for H1 FY2021. That figure would have been much higher had the COVID-19 pandemic not forced the closure of the casino.

It is a good job that Crown no longer trades on the ASX but its shares would have taken a battering. Why? Because the new laws place restrictions on gambling at Crown Melbourne.

What Are The New Laws in Melbourne?

Forcing a stop-loss on customers is a major blow to Crown’s operations. The first of the new laws focus on pokies, although everything points towards blackjack, roulette, and baccarat players joining. All Australian residents must set a maximum limit on how much they are prepared to lose before the play any pokies. The game is impossible to play once they hit this limit.

Loss limits are nothing new but a casino enforcing them is. Early suggestions state the customer is in charge of the loss limit amount. However, it is likely the laws force Crown to intervene if the player sets a limit that is too high.

Another of the laws limits the use of cash for Crown Melbourne’s players. A limit of $1,000 in 24 hours is in place unless the patron provides photographic ID. Anyone with verified photo ID is able to use more than $1,000, although an upper limit is in the pipeline.

These laws are big news for Crown Melbourne because it houses 2,600 of the state’s 26,321 electronic gaming machines. Setting loss limits and restricting cash use is a major blow to the casino’s bottom line.

Additional laws are incoming. They include tracking customers’ playing time and spending electronically. The regulators want to see a commitment to this by the end of 2023 with a full rollout completed two years later.

Another Raft of Rules and Regulations

The Crown Resorts boardroom is not a happy place today as the directors consider their next move in light of even more new laws landing at their feet. Spending limits is one thing but that is not all Crown is worried about.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCCC) vets anyone wishing to purchase a stake of 5% or more in Crown. This is unlikely to happen with Blackstone Group having only just taken over the company in June.

Furthermore, Crown is limited to a single bank account where it holds patrons’ funds. Previously, Crown had control of several bank accounts, many of which it used to blatantly “wash” funds from Chinese VIPs. A new smoking ban in high roller rooms comes into effect immediately.

Tim Costello, Chief Advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, welcomed the laws.

“This is a really historic day for the state government and therefore the people of Victoria – winning back power over Crown, that has completely dominated the landscape and dominated the terms of engagement.”

Costello wants a self-imposed loss limit applied to pubs and clubs.

“You can link the same system for pre-commitment to all pokies through clubs and hotels in Victoria so simply. The greedy pubs and clubs with pokies have fought this for more than a decade.”

Crown Resorts and its Blackstone Group owners have neglected to comment on the new laws.