Gaming Commission: Australia Has Long Way to Go to Responsible Gambling

Gaming Commission: Australia Has Long Way to Go to Responsible Gambling

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) released its sixth review into the operations of Crown Casino.

In its report, the VCGLR made 20 recommendations, 11 of which referred to the problem of “responsible gambling,” because the commission felt Crown Casino had not done its part with regard to the public. This review comes at a time when Crown Resorts, the casino’s owner, has been under fire for the past two years for allegations of tampering, money laundering, and bribery, not just in Australia, but also in Macau.

Crown Casino’s Problem

Gaming Commission: Australia Has Long Way to Go to Responsible Gambling 1Crown Resorts has had issues within the gaming industry for the last two years. These included the engagement and breakup of James Packer, former CEO and primary shareholder, and American pop diva Mariah Carey, as well as Packer’s mental health issues and, finally, resignation as the chief executive officer. All of this led to considerable scrutiny of the company. Also, the Crown Casino Melbourne was accused of misconduct by an employee at the beginning of the year. According to the employee, it allowed high-roller slot gamers to use a device that would prevent the buttons of poker machines from moving, which is a violation of the law. The casino had already been fined $300,000 for tampering with the machines, although, at the time, the company said it was merely testing them.

The Commission and the Notion of Responsible Gambling

The commission has said its responsible gaming policy has been in place since the 1990s. The idea was that responsible gaming, which was to be implemented in the codes of practice in all Australian casinos, requires gaming operators to post warning signs and attempt interventions when a client shows signs of harmful behavior. Other regulations include limits on video poker machine bets and on how much money can be loaded at one time.

At the time, the thought was the regulations would guarantee the casinos were practicing responsible gaming and be more observant. In exchange, the restrictions could be lessened. While the regulations have allowed for an increase in the number of casinos, as well as in the amount of revenue to the state governments, they have also increased the number of people who have a problem with gaming, according to the commission.

The Recommendations

As noted above, the VCGLR recommended more staff at the casinos and in other areas where there are electronic poker machines (called pokies in Australia). Staff members may need additional training and time to intervene if they believe a patron is exhibiting signs of harmful use of the pokies. In addition, the commission recommended that Crown implement data analysis in real time to help identify problem gamers. Many critics of the government have noted making pokie players quit when they are harming themselves will reduce revenue for the casinos, and that may mean casinos would be reluctant to intervene no matter how much the person may lose.

Another recommendation was to monitor casino machines more closely. This recommendation was made, perhaps, in response to the earlier complaints of tampering against Crown Casinos. In addition, the commission noted the casino needed to do a better job in its transfer of money from the floor to the bank to ensure the dealers, especially those in the high-limit gaming rooms, are not vulnerable to bribery or money laundering.

The commission releases reports on casinos on a regular basis, so individuals are able to view and comment on the findings. Crown Resorts has chosen to respond, saying it is fit to operate casinos, and it does not believe it needs to tighten up its regulations with regard to casino gaming in Victoria or in the other states it operates in.

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