Drastic Measures by Crown Casino Perth

The Perth Casino Royal Commission have been told that the casino watchdog put the financial wellbeing of Crown Perth Casino over the interests of the public

The case is based on the fact that Crown Perth approached the watchdog to ask permission to speed up their gaming machines because, in March 2019, the casino was struggling.

The former chair of the Gaming and Wagering Commission, Duncan Ord, said, “Crown made it very clear at the time that they were bleeding money and that there would be a consequence of staff being stood down.”

The result of speeding up the machines would, in effect, mean that the casino games would operate in a similar way to poker machines, and the casino would be in a position to make more money.

Poker machines have been banned in Western Australia since 1985 due to their addictive nature, and the prime role of the Gaming and Wagering Commission is to minimize the harm inflicted by any form of addictive gambling.

Mr Ord told the Royal Commission that there is actually very little difference between poker machines and EGM’s in terms of how fast the games can be played.

This was the second appearance Mr Ord has made before the Royal Commission, and it was announced that the chief casino officer Michael Connolly had been told by Mr Ord to stand down from his position due to his friendships with Crown Perth executives.

Mr Connolly had declared his association with Crown Perth executives to the GWC, but it was revealed that only one friendship was declared, and he was close to another two executives.

Duncan Ord former chair of the Gaming and Wagering Commission

When asked whether Mr Connolly position could be justified and if he should have been responsible for the briefing paper presented to GWC about changing the speed of the gaming machines, Mr Ord said, “I wouldn’t have thought it was appropriate if they were close friends and, on the operations committee, [of Crown Perth and DLGSC representatives] for this paper to be authored by Michael himself, in that circumstance, believed — and still believe — that Mr Connolly was an honorable man and believed that he could firewall his professional obligations from his personal obligations,” he said. “I saw plenty of evidence that he took his responsibilities as chief casino officer very seriously.”

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