Crown Resorts Set To Suspend All Junket Activities Until July 2021
Australian casino giant Crown Resorts Ltd announced that they will be pulling out of all junket activities, a position the company said they would re-evaluate come July 1, 2021. Crown’s move against junkets is linked to their recent troubles with Australian regulators regarding their junket ties.
Crown is currently applying for a casino license in Barangaroo in Sydney, prompting the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) to launch a public inquiry on the firm.
The Crown Sydney Hotel Resort in Barangaroo is expected to launch on December 14, 2020. The resort is slated to have 129 gaming tables as well as 66 electronic terminals for table games, distributed across two gaming rooms. There will also be 30 more table games, located in 12 private rooms inside the property.
One of the main points of focus for the government inquiry is Crown’s many ties to junket activities. Regulators brought to light how much oversight Crown exercised over this side of their business, which has garnered controversy in recent months.
Initially, the focus of the inquiry was to determine the suitability of Macau-based operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, led by Lawrence Ho Yau Lung—son of the late Macau gambling giant Stanley Ho Hung Sun—as an investor in Crown. After Melco Resorts sold off the interest in Crown, the inquiry shifted to Crown’s junket ties.
The inquiry has revealed the underbelly of the casino business, with Crown being questioned on their links to money laundering, illegal junket activities, and potential breaches of gambling regulations.
Naomi Sharp, a lawyer for the inquiry, pointedly noted that Crown’s suspension of junket activities is rendered moot due to Australia’s borders being closed to inbound foreigners.
Ken Barton, Crown Resorts CEO, admitted that it was very difficult for junket operators to bring in any VIP gamblers due to the current COVID-19 conditions and also pointed out that the firm’s premiere property, the Crown Melbourne in Victoria is closed right now due to the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in the state.
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Barton added that Crown is currently carrying out suggestions offered by the professional services company Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., who have been tasked with developing a report on external junket approval policies.