Crown braces for Vic casino report release

Crown is bracing for the release of the final royal commission report into whether the gambling giant is fit to retain its Victorian licence.

The Victorian government has confirmed the final report of the inquiry into Crown, headed by former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein QC, will be tabled in state parliament on Tuesday.

Mr Finkelstein handed over his report to Victorian Governor Linda Dessau AC on October 15 but the state government have taken two weeks to consider the findings and recommendations before releasing it.

Crown has issued a statement on the ASX alerting shareholders to the report’s imminent release.

The royal commission heard the casino underpaid up to $272 million in Victorian gaming taxes for three years, but did nothing about it until the inquiry was announced.

It has since agreed to repay $50 million.

In closing submissions in August, the James Packer-backed group’s barrister Michael Borsky QC argued Crown was too big and integral to the state’s economy to be stripped of its licence.

But the commissioner was unconvinced, noting Crown Melbourne remained a profitable business and therefore its 12,500 staff may change employers but were not at risk of losing their jobs.

“Someone will always step in,” Mr Finkelstein said.

Mr Borsky admitted fault on behalf of Crown for the extensive failures revealed throughout the Victorian inquiry, as well as the earlier NSW inquiry overseen by Patricia Bergin.

That inquiry found Crown facilitated money laundering, partnered with junket operators with links to organised crime groups even after being made aware of these connections, and exposed staff to the risk of detention in China.

On the back of the Victorian inquiry, Melbourne chief executive Xavier Walsh and company chair Helen Coonan have both stepped down.

A new Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission was also announced in August, tragoidia following a separate review into the current gambling and liquor watchdog, and will have oversight of all gaming in the state.

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