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Crown Resorts facing allegations of poker machine tampering

Fri, Oct 20, 10:04am by Staff Writer

Crown Resorts is facing investigations by federal money laundering authorities and casino regulators after allegations of tampering with poker machines and avoiding reporting cash transactions at Melbourne’s Crown Casino.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has tabled a video to parliament which allegedly shows illicit practices in the pokies industry.

Dubbed “PokieLeaks”, the video evidence was collected by Wilkie and Senator Nick Xenophon.

Wilkie said he had verified the identities of those in the videos, with one appearing to be a poker machine technician, while the other was a gaming room attendant.

The allegations include that Crown manipulated machines to change the odds, allowed other people’s identity cards to be used to process cash transactions and instructed staff to modify buttons on machines so people would be allowed to gamble automatically in breach of state regulations.

Crown has rejected the allegations of illegal or improper conduct, only making a brief statement to the Australian stock exchange.

As part of Crown’s compliance with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, Crown are required to identify suspicious transactions, as casinos are high-risk venues for the proceeds of crime.

The Commission has said that it would investigate this matter immediately.

A spokeswoman for the Commission said, “We take any claims of this type extremely seriously and they will be thoroughly investigated.”

The whistle-blowers’ identities have been disguised, with Wilkie saying it is up to the individuals to go to federal and state authorities.

“They are so nervous about what they are doing and I will not reveal their identities to anyone,” Wilkie said.

As Mr Packer prepares to open a $2 billion Crown hotel-casino in Sydney in 2021, the New South Wales Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has started investigating the allegations.

A breach of the Melbourne license would have an implication on Crown Resorts being granted their license in NSW, as licensees are required to operate in a fit and proper manner.

More than 21 million visitors gamble at Melbourne’s top gambling venue every year, splurging billions of dollars on more than 2,600 pokies machines and more than 400 tables.

Crown shares fell by six per cent on Wednesday from $11.76 and were down a further one per cent on Thursday, stripping more than $350 million from its share price.

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