James Packer’s company fined for altering gambling machines

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James Packer, billionaire former executive chairman of Crown Resorts, was on the receiving end of the largest fine ever issued by gambling regulators in the Australian state of Victoria.

Gambling regulators slapped a $300,000 fine on Packer’s company for tampering with gaming machines at its casino in Melbourne in March and April 2017. The tampering occurred on 17 gaming machines on the casino floor, where buttons on the machines were hidden, and gamers were only given two options: to place the minimum bet or the maximum bet.

Background of James Packer

Packer, the son and grandson of media moguls, was one of the richest men in Australia. Packer has seen his fortune fall because of business losses. He is currently the ninth richest man in the country, with a net worth of approximately AUS $4 billion. Many people outside of Australia know him as the ex-fiancé of American singer Mariah Carey. He gave the singer a 35-carat engagement ring valued at $10 million. After their split, he paid the diva a seven-figure settlement, which she called an inconvenience fee. She recently sold the engagement ring for one-fifth the amount Packer paid for it. He was also well-known for fighting, for which he was fined in 2014. However, just like his father and grandfather, Packer is also known as a philanthropist who has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charity.

Crown Resorts owns online and land-based casinos in Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and the United Kingdom. Crown Resorts’ location in Melbourne is both a casino and a resort in the city’s central business district. It is the largest casino currently in the Southern Hemisphere, and one of the largest casino-resorts in the world. The resort boasts four hotels and a gambling floor with more than 540 tables and 3,500 gaming machines. It is the headquarters for the World Series of Poker in the Asia-Pacific region. The resort boasts water features, pools, spas, concert venues, and shopping.

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Crown Resorts Fined

Crown Resorts was fined because the gaming commission noted that while changing the gaming machines is not illegal, not obtaining approval of the commission violates the Gambling Regulation Act of 2003. This act had several objectives, mainly to prevent minors from gambling, ensure that gaming machines are free from tampering and exploitation by criminal elements, and promote tourism with gambling interests by conducting honest odds at casinos. In addition, the commission guarantees the charitable contributions promised by gaming institutions arrive at their destinations.

The fine by the Victorian government is not the only fine Packer’s company has incurred. In 2017, the Chinese government jailed 16 workers at a Crown Resorts casino in Macau for its practices in luring high rollers to its casino. The company was fined $1.6 million, and its workers, which included three Australians, were jailed for a period of nine to 10 months. China’s jailing of its workers caused Crown Resorts to begin to withdraw and sell its assets on Macau and return to Australia. Packer has also been accused of trying to bribe members of Israel’s government to obtain citizenship. In addition, one of Crown’s online ventures, CrownBet was accused of illegal advertising in 2016 in New South Wales to lure gamblers to its site with incentives, which is illegal under Australia’s gaming laws.

Since being issued the fine, Packer has withdrawn from the daily operations of many of his holdings, including Crown Resorts, citing personal reasons. He has been in treatment for mental health issues. In addition, his plans to build the country’s tallest building, part of a casino project, is also in jeopardy.

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