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Regulators probe Crown pokies allegations

Regulators in the state of Victoria are probing allegations relating to the blanking of low-betting option buttons on pokies machines by Crown Resorts’ flagship Melbourne property, which could lead to disciplinary action.

The company said its Melbourne unit has received a notice from the The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation that it had breached the Gambling Regulation Act.

The allegations arise from a trial conducted by Crown Melbourne involving the use of blanking

blanking buttons on a limited number of electronic gaming machines (17 out of Crown Melbourne’s total of 2,628 machines) for a three week period between March and April 2017.

“The Commission’s view is that the trial involved varying a gaming machine type and certain games in a manner that required the Commission’s prior approval. Crown Melbourne’s position is that the trial did not require prior approval, and therefore there has been no contravention of the GRA,” the company said.

Crown Melbourne has provided a detailed submission of its position to the Commission. According to local media reports the company may face fines, or potentially lose its license if the findings are upheld.

"The commission has commenced disciplinary proceedings against the casino operator," a VCGLR spokeswoman told the Sydney Morning Herald. "These proceedings relate to the use of blanking of buttons on certain electronic gaming machines on the casino floor."

Disciplinary action against Crown could include the cancellation, suspension or variation of its casino licence, the imposition of a fine or a letter of censure, according to the VCGLR.

The company also announced that James Packer is selling down a stake in the company, said to be worth $100 million ($73.4 million).

It said it has been informed by Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings, Crown’s biggest shareholder, that it plans to reduce its stake to about 47 percent. It gave no further details.

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