Crown’s VIP turnover dips significantly in first quarter
Crown Resorts faces a massive decline in VIP turnover in the first three months of the new fiscal year in a rough start to the year.
Casino Aus reports Crown’s chief executive has lashed out at activists, unverified whistleblowers and unproven claims in the latest scandal to rock Crown.
At the same time, Australia’s border force comes under scrutiny for the entry of an UN-banned arms dealer to the country to gamble at its casino.
At a shareholder presentation last month, executive chairman John Alexander spoke about some of Crown’s figures from the first quarter of the new financial year, starting on July 1.
Those months were plagued by allegations of scandal and an intense spotlight on the high-stakes VIP gamblers who spend time and money at Crown establishments.
The strong public and governmental weight on the VIP industry all but ended Crown’s relationships with junket operators.
Subsequently, the news delivered by Alexander was not exactly shocking.
VIP turnover for the first three and a half months of the new fiscal year was down 46 per cent.
Gaming floor revenue was up two per cent compared to the previous year, but non-gaming revenue was flat.
Online social gaming revenue was down 4 per cent for Betfair Australasia and DGN.
As for the VIP dip, Alexander blamed much of it on a slowing Chinese economy spurred by the trade war with the United States that has hurt Chinese high rollers.
The head of Crown Resorts has not been shy about expressing his displeasure with media reports of the scandal and subsequent stories.
It was not surprising that he took some serious shots at that media during his shareholder meeting last month.
According to Inside Asian Gaming, Alexander said: “There are a number of interests and activities who continue to pursue an anti-Crown agenda.”
And about the media’s role in it all, he added: “As someone who has 50 years’ experience in journalism and media management…I have never seen a quality news organisation publish a story it openly admits it hasn’t been able to verify.”
He reiterated that Crown does not tolerate any illegal activity by anyone associated with the company, whether employees or customers.
“Crown has no interest in being used by those who seek to do the wrong thing,” he told the ABC.
He admitted the allegations have caused some concern among shareholders
But Alexander called those allegations “sensationalist”.
He then added: “I can personally assure you we are taking those matters seriously.”
Border Force called into question
One situation that had lawmakers scrambling to investigate further was the report in October that Joseph Wong Kila Tai had been a visit to Crown’s Perth and Melbourne casinos.
At the same time, he was on an international travel ban list.
Tai had been an arms dealer with connections to Liberian war criminal Charles Taylor.
The UN Security Council Committee found that Tai had provided military and financial support to Taylor.
They froze his assets and issued an international travel ban on him in 2011, and it was active through 2015.
But during this time, Tai flew into Australia enough times to lose more than $6 million at Crown during several casino visits.
Victoria Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz said the Border Force was to blame for the errors, not state authorities.
That led to former Border Force head Roman Quaedvlieg having to testify in the Crown corruption hearings.
The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project wrote that Quaedvlieg claimed two minister and an MP lobbied him to “smooth out” the border security process so that Chinese gamblers and others could get to Crown Resorts without trouble.
They wanted VIP players to “land on a private jet at Melbourne airport, receive the minimal amount of clearances, ptu them in cars, get them into the casino to spend money.”