More Bad News for Crown Casino
Melbourne’s Crown Casino is having a rough year. Unfortunately, the news just keeps getting worse for the iconic Aussie gambling destination.
This article takes a look at Crown’s previous problems, as well as the latest issues to raise their ugly head. Whether you’re a long-time customer or curious onlooker, you’ll get a clear view of the seedy underbelly of the gambling industry.
Barangaroo Casino Tower
The first bad news for Crown Casino came in July. That’s when city officials in Sydney started raising objections about the $2.2 billion development in the suburb of Barangaroo.
Construction had already been underway for 14 months, and the completion date was scheduled for 2021. The proposed Crown Sydney Tower was meant to rise 71 storeys above the skyline and include both a casino and luxury apartments.
Then Crown decided to get greedy. They submitted new requests in order to reduce parking and add more apartments (and therefore generate more revenue). This didn’t sit well with the mayor and city council members, and it touched off a series of debates and public posturing.
Criminal Accusations against Crown Resorts
A few weeks later, various media outlets gained access to leaked emails from Crown Resorts. This led to reports from The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, and 60 Minutes. As you might have guessed, none of these were positive.
According to the reports, Crown had links with Chinese criminals, communist officials, and even those involved in sex trafficking. A former Border Force head also claimed to have been pressured by politicians to make it easier for Chinese high rollers to get into Australia.
Of course, Crown Resorts denied all the charges. The damage had already been done, though, and numerous politicians called for a thorough investigation.
Suspended Business Dealings
In June, it was announced that Melco was going to buy a 20% stake in Crown for $1.76 billion. However, the deal drew the attention of Aussie officials, primarily because Melco is run by CEO Lawrence Ho.
Lawrence Ho is the son of billionaire and gambling legend Stanley Ho. The latter has been rumoured to be involved in all kinds of shady dealings, and officials have worked hard to keep his influence out of Oz.
Regulators from New South Wales launched an investigation, and Melco responded by putting the proposed purchase on hold for 60 days.
Enter the Whistleblower
One of the latest pieces of bad news involves an anonymous chauffeur who works for Crown Casino. He told officials that employees are expected to follow “Crown law,” which just so happens to supersede traditional Aussie law.
This behaviour includes procuring drugs and prostitutes for foreign high rollers. He also claimed that these individuals were able to bypass the usual customs checks.
According to the driver, “Crown is a law unto itself. The laws that the rest of us have to follow mean nothing to Crown.”
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Victorian state MP Fiona Patten are pushing for a full inquiry into Crown’s activities. Wilkie expects other whistleblowers to come forward as the pressure on Crown continues to mount.
Possible Strike among Crown Employees
On top of everything else, Crown Casino employees may be going on strike. Their union, United Voice, is preparing a ballot, and it might allow for strikes as soon as November 1st. This would be the first strikes from Crown employees in 16 years.
Employees are demanding better pay and job security. They want a new three-year agreement that includes a 5% wage increase during each of those years. Crown has offered 2.5%, but negotiations have stalled from there.
The opposition also wants to reduce the time it takes to move from a casual to permanent employee. At the moment, this process takes 24 months. 70% of the casino’s staff is made up of casual employees, according to a union report.