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Victoria to shake up gambling regulation 

The state of Victoria is reviewing its gambling legislation and plans to set up an independent casino regulator following the findings of a damning report into Crown Resorts in New South Wales.

The state government said that Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne has commissioned a review to advise on the necessary structural and governance arrangements.

The independent review will also assess, among other things, requirements for regulation of money laundering and junket operations.

The announcement came as part of a statement revealing that Victoria is establishing a Royal Commission to investigate Crown Resorts’ operations in Melbourne, the home to its flagship property.

“The reports from New South Wales’ ILGA Inquiry were incredibly concerning, which is why we’re establishing a Royal Commission to get the answers we need about Crown Melbourne,” Horne said in a statement.

“The Royal Commission will establish the facts and the Government and the VCGLR will take any necessary action at the conclusion of the investigation. We will not tolerate illegal behaviour in our gaming industry.”

The commission, which is Australia’s most powerful form of public inquiry, will be headed by retired judge Raymond Finkelstein QC, who will hand down his recommendations by 1 August 2021.

Finkelstein QC has served more than 40 years at the Victorian Bar and has been a Queen’s Counsel since 1986.

A Royal Commission has the power to compel witnesses to appear and for documentation to be given in evidence.

The Bergin report into Crown found the company to be unsuitable to hold a license for its new property in Sydney, prompting the resignation of CEO Ken Barton and other senior directors. 

Bergin warned that to convince regulators of its suitability to hold a license for its new $2.2 billion property at Barangaroo, Crown would need to purge its board and face a regulatory deep dive into its accounts and management practices.

NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Chair Philip Crawford said Crown would effectively need to blow itself up.

Western Australia has also announced a probe into the company’s operations.

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