Crown Resorts, one of the biggest casino operators in Australia has been hit with allegations of manipulating slot machines at its popular Crown Melbourne Casino in Victoria. The allegations surfaced after Andrew Wilkie, a federal lawmaker in Canberra played a 30 minute video for legislators where three former Crown Resort employees give detailed information on how Crown Resorts manipulated slot machines and also breached other gaming regulations to take advantage over unsuspecting gamblers.
Slot machines are commonly referred to as pokie machines or pokies in Australia. They are extremely popular with Australian gamblers and are responsible for generating more than 40 percent of domestic gaming revenue for Crown Resorts. The video played had the faces of the former employees blurred out and their voices modified for protection but the evidence was very damaging for Crown Resorts and caused their share prices to drop by 8.1 percent on Wednesday.
Legislator Calls For An Investigation
Crown Resorts has received a lot of negative publicity in Australia and other parts of the world during the last 12 months after Chinese authorities arrested 18 Crown employees in Mainland China for marketing and promoting gambling activities which is banned in China. The employees spent close to a year in jail and only were only recently released.
Just as Crown Resorts started to put that bad experience behind, they have been hit with allegations of manipulating pokie machines. Victoria’s gaming regulator have said they had made note of these allegations and will conduct a detail enquiry into Crown Melbourne’s gaming activities.
However legislator Andrew Wilkie who is a strong opponent of the gaming industry has raised the issue that manipulation of pokie machines might not be restricted to just Crown Melbourne but could be happening across the country. Wilkie said that he could not ascertain how genuine the allegations were but believed it was serious enough for it to be made public and demands a thorough investigation.
Here Are The Allegations
PokieLeaks.org along with Alliance for Gambling Reform, an anti-gambling lobbying group had developed the video where three former Crown Resort employees highlight different ways in which pokie machines were manipulated and other regulatory breaches.
The former employees allege that Crown Melbourne adjusted pokie machine buttons and had them pressed down to ensure that bets were continuously generated which is a violation of state gaming laws. They also allege that the casino had purposely disabled certain pokie machine buttons to limit the choice of the player from deciding how much they could wager. They state that the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation was made aware of these charges and they had ordered Crown Melbourne to fix it but did not take any disciplinary action against the casino.
The whistleblowers also allege that Crown Resorts did not take sufficient action to stop intoxication and drug use. Many casinos across the globe often serve free liquor to VIP players to get them intoxicated before they start gambling as they tend to bet recklessly and spend heavily. The whistleblowers also stated that Crown Melbourne failed to report all violent incidents that took place at the casino.
Crown Resorts Denies Allegations
Crown Resorts decided to drop all international plans of expansion after its employees were arrested in China and closed down a number of offices across the world. The company stated that its new plan was to focus on its domestic market and boost revenues across its casino properties in Australia.
These allegations and a potential investigation will hurt its domestic market as Crown Resorts operates 2,600 pokie machines in Melbourne and is licensed to operate 2,500 pokie machines in Perth. Crown Resorts released a statement and has denied all allegations. The company has also asked legislator Andrew Wilkie to provide evidence of these allegations at the earliest.
Crown Resorts shareholders were not very happy when China arrested 18 employees last year and the company’s reputation took a hit. Crown Resorts tried to salvage things by completely revamping its plans and focusing on its domestic market. These allegations will now hurt its domestic market and investors in the process as an on-going investigation is likely to further damage Crown Resort’s already tarnished reputation.

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