Crown Casino in Victoria Fined AU$20 Million for Tax Violations
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has issued a fine of AU$ 20 m ($13.8m) against land-based casino operator Crown Resorts for breaching tax rules in Victoria.
Crown's breaches came to light in an investigation conducted by the 2021 Royal Commission into the casino's operations and suitability to hold a license in the jurisdiction.
As revealed by the RCCOL, Crown Melbourne casino in Victoria made improper tax deductions by including the expenses of specific promotional activities as part of the winnings paid out.
Additionally, the operator intentionally concealed the true nature of these deductions from the state's regulator from 2013 to 2021. However, these infractions were brought to light by RCCOL's discovery of a document outlining the amount of Crown's unpaid casino tax.
Interestingly, the document was part of a large collection of records submitted by the operator to the Royal Commission for unrelated reasons.
After these revelations, Crown admitted that it had been wrong to claim the tax deductions and has since paid approximately $61.5m to the state, including $37.4m in unpaid casino tax and $24.1m in penalty interest.
The AU$20.0m fine is the latest sanction imposed on Crown in response to its tax shortcomings.
Crown and other gaming licensees have important obligations to pay gaming taxes to the state. Not only did the Crown breach its obligations by claiming tax deductions to which it was not entitled, but Crown also made significant efforts at concealment. The VGCCC will not tolerate this behavior. We expect licensees to comply with their tax obligations and to be transparent in their dealings with us. We have today imposed a significant fine of $20.0m on Crown to send a clear message that this type of conduct will be met with strong disciplinary action.
Crown's Troubled Track Record
Crown is no stranger to fines and disciplinary actions. The penalty represents the fourth time the VGCCC will sanction Crown for failing to meet regulatory obligations as uncovered by the Royal Commission. So far, the operator has been slammed with a fine of $250m from the VGCCC.
In 2022, Crown was found to have neglected its responsible gambling responsibilities for several years, failing to intervene and prevent gambling-related harm in the Australian state. These led to a record fine of $120m.
In the same year, the operator was ordered to pay another fine of $80m for illegally allowing customers to use its China Union Pay credit or debit cards to access funds for gambling purposes between 2012 and 2016.
In May 2023, the Melbourne and Perth casinos operated by Crown reached a tentative agreement with Australia's counter-organized crime financial agency to pay a $450m penalty, which was imposed due to Crown's violations of anti-money laundering (AML) laws.
Responding to the latest development, Crown Melbourne CEO Mike Volkert accepted the decision of the VGCCC and stated that under the new leadership, Crown is committed to an "open, constructive and transparent relationship with our regulators and stakeholders, as well as improving internal controls and our regulatory reporting requirements."