Australia's Crown hit by accusations of poker machine-fixing, shares tumble

Kristopher Drake
October 19, 2017

Australia's Crown Casino deliberately tampered with poker machines and ignored evidence of drug use and domestic violence, according to three ex-employees of the company.

Casino workers in Melbourne cracked into the machines to whittle the odds of winning down below the statutory 85% return, an Australian lawmaker said Wednesday, referring to testimony from three former employees.

CANBERRA, Australia-If gamblers at Crown Casino thought their slot machines were being stingier than usual, it may have been because employees were giving the one-armed bandits a little extra muscle. "You basically remove betting options from the machine".

The senator wants an upper house inquiry into Crown after independent MP Andrew Wilkie used federal parliamentary privilege on Wednesday to make public the allegations levelled at the gaming giant's Melbourne precinct.

"Although the allegations focus on Crown in Melbourne, they could also suggest a broader pattern of behaviour in the poker machine industry, which would obviously have grave implications for people right around Australia".

"If these accusations are true, then Crown would be facilitating money laundering for any number of nefarious reasons, like tax fraud, drug running and antiterrorism", Mr. Wilkie told legislators.

The claims knocked Crown shares down to a 2017 low of $10.80 during trading, wiping more than half a billion dollars off its market value.

The other claims will be "thoroughly investigated" by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, it confirmed. Australians spend more on gambling each year than people anywhere else in the world ($1,000 per person), with about 80 percent of citizens gambling in some form, also the highest rate in the world.

Mr. Wilkie, a former intelligence analyst and whistleblower, said he would not detail the allegations.

"I don't have that much confidence in the gambling regulator because some of the allegations from the whistleblowers is that the gambling regulator didn't adequately investigate this".

On the video recording, people who were not identified and whose faces had been pixelated so they could not be identified, accused the Melbourne casino owned by Crown of fixing its poker machines through removing controls that are built-in that are created to regulate the gambling rates.

In a statement to the ASX, Crown hit back at the allegations and called upon Mr Wilkie to give authorities all the information he had relating to the matters alleged.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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