Australia’s Crown Casino Faces Backlash from Alleged Pokies Tampering

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One of Australia’s biggest real money casinos is facing some stiff disciplinary measures because of improprieties with some of its pokies machines. Citing a recent report from The Guardian, the Melbourne casino has been notified that it may be ‘in breach’ of the Gambling Regulation Act through the practice of “blanking buttons” on some of the machines. This removes certain gambling options from the machines to cause a possible disadvantage for Aussie players.

The report goes on to state that the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation stated that Crown should have sought approval from the commission before it went ahead and conducted a three-week trial involving 17 separate pokies machines. Acting as Victoria’s ‘watchdog’, the penalties could be as severe as a possible suspension of Crown’s gambling license.  The response to these allegations has been met with the claim that Crown did not need approval for this test run, which was conducted in March and April of 2017. The direct quote from the company went onto state, “The commission’s view is that the trial involved varying a gaming machine type and certain games in a manner that required the commission’s prior approval. Crown Melbourne has recently provided a detailed submission of its position to the commission, which Crown Melbourne understands the commission’s currently considering.”

Going back to last year, it was also reported that an independent MP Andrew Wilkie did compile evidence that was presented to the federal parliament. The gathered evidence was based on the statements from three informants. They alleged that Crown Casino deliberately altered poker machines by removing certain gambling options. On Monday, March 5, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation announced that it has commenced the process of “disciplinary proceedings against the casino operator.”   In a short statement from the commission its stated, “These proceedings relate to the use of blanking buttons on certain electronic gaming machines on the casino floor. An investigation into this matter was already underway prior to claims being tabled into parliament.” Wilkie’s response to this latest development was positive and he went on to state, “The casino obviously has a case to answer about the blanking of buttons and I’m sure that the truth will come out when the commission finalizes its inquiries.”

There was also some video evidence that was also submitted by Wilkie last year that adds to the allegations that Crown Casino allowed cannabis to be smoked in gaming rooms. He also eluded to the idea that the casino knowingly avoided money laundering rules. This was all part of an ongoing “PokieLeaks” campaign to bring to light any ‘illicit practices’ in the Australian pokies industry as well as online casinos for Aussie players. The report mentions that former senator Nick Xenophon was part of this effort.

Going back to last year when some of these allegations started to surface, Crown Resorts Ltd released a statement to ASX denying any allegations of tampering.
The actual results of this investigation have the potential to rock the entire Australian casino industry as it pertains to real money gambling depending on the severity of any disciplinary action the commission might pursue.

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