Melbourne’s Crown Casino is in the spotlight once again after new evidence of its problematic pokies found its way onto YouTube.
Just three weeks after Crown was fined $300,000 for a separate incident by the, it may now face a fresh investigation from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR).
As shown by an anonymous player claiming to be a croupier at the casino, small picks were being to jam a pokie’s bet button.
Another Pokie Problem for Crown
Although the use of picks specifically isn’t strictly prohibited, the video shows Crown’s logo on the small plastic squares. In addition to any implications one could deduce from the video, Monash University gambling researcher Charles Livingstone says players have told him the picks are supplied by the casino.
Under Victorian state law, pokies offering non-stop spins are illegal except for certain areas of a venue. The reports suggest, however, that the picks are being given to regular players as a way of circumventing the ban and earning more loyalty rewards by increasing a machine’s spin rate.
Prior to the YouTube video (see below) being posted on May 23, MP Andrew Wilkie had already raised the issue. Speaking to local media outlets on April 23, Wilkie said that Crown had not only removed certain betting options from its games, but breaching state integrity laws.
“I continue to be approached by whistle-blowers alleging serious misconduct at Crown casino and will bring these allegations to the attention of the VCGLR and Victoria Police when appropriate,” Wilkie told the press on May 23.
Is the Crown Slipping?
Australia’s largest casino has long been the subject of public and political scrutiny, but the latest reports could hurt the company’s bottom-line. With James Packer stepping down as chairman earlier in 2018 and offshore investments being scaled back to help plug Crown’s longstanding debts, a PR disaster is the last thing it needs.
A spokeswoman for Crown has confirmed that it will work with the VCGLR as it investigates the alleged use of picks. However, if the company is found guilty of breaching both state laws and the industry’s code of ethics, it would be the second breach in as many months and likely result in a severe fine.