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Crown Resorts suspends all junket play until July 2021

Australia’s Crown Resorts has announced the suspension all junket play until 30 June 2021 while it conducts an internal review of its processes related to junket operators.

The suspension follows evidence given at a NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry by CEO Ken Barton last week stating senior management had been unaware of large cash deposits and transfers being made in junket rooms located within its own casino at Crown Melbourne.

That evidence led presiding judge Patricia Bergin to describe Crown’s internal AML controls as a “debacle” while questioning how the Victorian gaming regulator was supposed to keep track of happenings within Crown Melbourne’s walls if its own management didn’t know.

In response, Crown issued a statement on Friday in which it revealed a review of its compliance and governance processes, including the suspension of all activity with junket operators until 3Q21.

It also said it has commenced a recruitment process for the newly created role of Head of Compliance and Financial Crimes, which will report directly to the Crown Resorts board.

The inquiry, being held in response to media reports aired late last year alleging Crown’s junket partners had links to organized crime, aims to determine if the company remains suitable to hold a casino license in NSW where it is due to open its new AU$2.2 billion Crown Sydney this December.

It was also to examine the planned sale of a 19.99% stake in Crown to Melco Resorts & Entertainment until Melco backed out of the deal and sold off its existing stake earlier this year.

Friday’s statement said VIP play had only contributed around 7% of normalized EBITDA at Crown’s Melbourne and Perth casinos over the past five years.

It also confirmed the company’s intention to proceed with a progressive opening of Crown Sydney from 14 December 2020.

“Once fully operational, it is intended that gaming operations at Crown Sydney will comprise a total of 30 table games across 12 private gaming salons within the tower and 129 table games and 66 electronic table game terminals within two distinct gaming rooms within the podium, which also contain six gaming salons,” Crown said.

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