Melbourne’s Crown Casino is at the centre of another pokie scandal after a former high roller claimed she was given ways to manipulate the system.
The latest whistle blower to come forward with alleged evidence of tampering has told MP Andrew Wilkie how staff gave her ways to increase her earn rate. Opting to remain anonymous, the Hobart resident showed Wilkie images of picks they used to play multiple pokies at the same time.
Essentially guitar picks, the devices were used to jam the bet buttons and keep the reels rolling without the need for manual intervention.
Picks and Points Cause Problems
As well as the picks bearing Crown Casino’s logo, the former patron alleges that staff gave her more than one player card, so she could earn more loyalty points.
Wilkie has since been presented the evidence to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) for review.
“It certainly raised a couple of eyebrows this morning at the VCGLR when I showed them the picks, when I showed them the multiple loyalty cards. This is potentially very hard and indisputable evidence,” Wilkie told local news outlets via media statement made on April 24.
News of the potential gaming violations come as the VCGLR is taking disciplinary action against Crown for supposedly tampered with more than 2,000 pokies. In a move led by Wilkie, the local gaming regulator was promoted to investigate claims that the casino had removed certain betting options from 2,628 gaming machines.
The revelations were first reported to Wilkie in 2017 by three former employees. In response to allegations, Crown executives stated that some betting options were changed but only on 17 pokies as part of a three-week trial.
Mounting Issues for Crown Executives
The VCGLR has yet to deliver its verdict on the matter, but it may elect to extend the investigation pending a review of the latest evidence. For the Crown Casino, the news is the latest in a series of blows.
In the midst of the first pokie scandal, former boss James Packer stepped down from as head of the company due to mental health issues. Although the billionaire will retain a 47 percent stake Crown Resorts Limited, he’ll no longer play an active role in its daily decisions.
As well as the loss of Packer, Crown has been scaling back its international interests in recent months in a bid to focus on the Australian market. However, with the VCGLR within its rights to revoke the company’s gaming licence in Victoria, any expansion plans may have to be put on hold for the foreseeable future.