Bergin Report and NSW Fallout
A “ripple effect” is defined as the “continuing and spreading results of an event or action.” In other words, one action can have widespread consequences for both people and places.
Currently, the New South Wales gambling landscape is experiencing its own ripple effect. Oddly enough, though, some of the inciting actions didn’t even take place within the state.
I’m talking, of course, about the recent Crown Resorts scandal and the ensuing hearings. This led to the epic Bergin Report, which may subsequently alter the way that gambling is carried out within the state.
How It Started
Crown Resorts got into hot water a while back thanks to a series of media reports about their less-than-desirable business practices. These reports exposed everything from dealing with shady individuals and money laundering to skirting national laws involving foreign citizens entering the country. The latter also involved public officials possibly looking the other way, which garnered a fair amount of unwanted attention for Crown.
While all this was going on, Crown was preparing for the grand opening of their $2.2 billion Crown Sydney casino. However, after admitting to money laundering, the gaming titan found itself being investigated by Liquor & Gaming NSW.
The Bergin Report
After all the testimony had been heard, former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin was tasked with putting together an overall decision on the case. Referred to as “The Bergin Report,” this 751-page document found that Crown was unfit to hold a licence for their soon-to-open Sydney casino. So, while the rest of the facility debuted in December, Crown Resorts was forced to miss out on all that sweet, sweet gambling revenue.
According to Bergin, “One of the difficulties for Crown was its unjustified belief in itself and its unwillingness to entertain the prospect that there was any force in any of the media allegations. This was described in some of the public hearings as corporate ‘arrogance’…it is an apt description of some of the public responses to the media allegations and the lack of proper attention to the needs of the company in light of them.”
She then added, “Any applicant for a casino license with the attributes of Crown’s stark realities of facilitating money laundering, exposing staff to the risk of detention in a foreign jurisdiction and pursuing commercial relationships with individuals with connections to Triads and organized crime groups would not be confident of a positive outcome. It is obvious that such attributes would render an applicant quite unsuitable to hold a casino license in New South Wales.”
Heads Will Roll
Immediately following the report, Crown directors Guy Jalland, Michael Johnston and Andrew Demetriou all resigned. This was done so that the company could begin an “ambitious reform program,” or at least that’s what they claimed.
The following week, CEO Ken Barton handed in his resignation after more than a decade with the company. Commissioner Bergin said he was “no match for what is needed at the helm of a casino licensee.” To further drive home the point, she added, “His problems will not be cured by the appointment of people expert in the field who report to him.”
Gambling Card Proposal
Prior to the Bergin Report, NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello recommended that the state implement a gambling card. This could would be pre-loaded with the amount of money a punter was willing to lose. It would also be tied to their ID, making it easier to combat issues such as problem gambling and money laundering.
While the proposal has been hotly contested, it received a major endorsement from Commissioner Bergin. She noted in her report, “The proposal has been the subject of some public debate and is not free from controversy. However, it appears that the very significant utility of the card to assist the problem gambler could not be in issue. It is also obvious that it would be a powerful mechanism to assist in combating money laundering.”
The proposal is also supported by the NSW Greens and One Nation, and now NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority chair Philip Crawford is adding his voice to the chorus. According to Crawford, “It’s a terrific way to shore up the issue of money laundering by organised crime. We don’t want it washing into the suburban pubs and clubs because it’s a big industry. You’ve seen the numbers and it’s massive, so it’s something we want to attack as a regulator.”
For more articles on gambling, please see the following:
- Sheldon Adelson Dead at 87
- Crown Sydney Casino Opening on Hold
- No More Pokies for Geelong Cats
- Man Sentenced for Gambling-Related Kidnapping