Crown Melbourne is facing accusations of tampering with gaming machines.
The Crown Melbourne is no stranger to improper conduct allegations, having been accused in the past of deliberately removing betting options on gaming machines and breaching Victorian gambling regulations. Just this week, independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie provided new evidence to regulators that alleges pokie machines have been manipulated at the casino.
A former visitor of the Crown Melbourne has stated that a plastic pick with the Crown Casino brand has been used to illegally jam poker machine buttons at the venue. The gambler claims she was provided with the pick in order to be able to continuously play the pokie machines. The MP handed over the specially designed picks, which provide support for the testimonies of three staff members of the Crown who stated last year that the operator was giving bettors plastic cards that allowed gameplay to take place at a faster pace.
Currently, the gaming regulator of the state, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, is considering penalties for the Crown Melbourne. Andrew Wilkie MP has provided the commission with loyalty cards from the casino as well as additional physical evidence, including the specially created picks that were reportedly given to the high-level bettors of the Crown.
The picks are supposedly being used by players to jam the poker machines to allow continuous play, which is against the gaming rules. Mr. Wilkie said: “If these allegations are found to be accurate, then I would be firmly of the view that the people who hold the license are not fit and proper people to hold that license and it should be taken off them. This is potentially very hard and indisputable evidence.”
The evidence of the specially designed picks was provided to Mr. Wilkie by a woman who remains anonymous. The former gambler told the MP that she would lose as much as $30,000 (US$22,782, £16,328), each time she visited the Crown Casino and was given several loyalty cards so that she could play several machines at once.
Based on the information he was provided, Mr. Wilkie said that the allegations are serious and if they are true, the casino would have matters to answer to, as it is a crime to illegally modify poker machines in Victoria. It is also a crime to provide a patron with a device that will allow the machines to provide continuous gameplay.
The Crown Melbourne was already under investigation by the commission as a result of information provided earlier in the year with allegations of blanking buttons. Technicians of the pokie machines claimed that they had been told to make alternations to machines that were illegal in nature. These included the removal or blanking out of low-betting options.
As part of the regular review process, the Commission is currently reviewing the license of the casino. With the blanking buttons information and the new allegations, the evidence continues to pile up against the operator. Andrew Wilkie believes that all allegations should be considered before a licensing renewal decision.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has said that the picks provided by the anonymous patron of the casino were not a gambling product, so they didn’t have to be approved, but the use of such picks would be examined. The information and evidence provided this week by Wilkie will be considered.
A spokeswoman for Crown said the casino would cooperate fully with any inquiries made by the authorities.