Melbourne’s Crown Casino’s year has been a challenging one and it’s about to get worse.
A series of events have led to numerous revelations about the shady activates happening at this iconic gambling destination.
Barangaroo Casino Tower
July brought the first wave of adversity to the casino’s doorstep when city officials in Sydney started raising objections about the $2.2 billion development in the suburb of Barangaroo.
Construction had already been in progress for 14 months with the completion date set for 2021. The Crown Sydney Tower was meant to be a 71-story structure, boasting both a casino and luxury apartments.
Then Crow’s plans for the venue raised the ire of the mayor and city council members. Their requests to reduce parking and add more apartments sparked a series of debates and public posturing.
Crown cast in a criminal light
Within a few weeks, numerous media outlets had gained access to leaked emails from Crown Resorts. The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, and 60 Minutes were among the media outlets releasing a series of damaging reports.
The reports laid bare Crown’s links with Chinese criminals, communist officials, and sex traffickers. A former Border Force head also claims to have been pressured by politicians who wanted a streamlined entry for Chinese high rollers coming to Australia.
Crown resorts refuted the allegations, but the casino was unable to contain the fallout as numerous politicians called for a thorough investigation.
Deals on ice
Melco’s planned purchase of a 20% stake in Crown in June, for $1.76 billion was of particular interest to Aussie officials, mainly because Melco is run by CEO Lawrence Ho.
Lawrence Ho is the son of billionaire and gambling legend Stanley Ho. His father is alleged to be involved in all manner of illegal activities and Australian officials have fought to keep his influence from entering their country.
Regulators from New South Wales launched an investigation, resulting in Melco suspending the proposed purchase for 60 days.
A whistleblower emerges
A chauffeur who works for Crown Casino recently emerged to add to the casino’s growing despair. He revealed to officials that employees were expected to follow “Crown law,” a set of rules that appeared to displace traditional Aussie law.
Employees were regularly asked to procure drugs and prostitutes for foreign high rollers. He further claimed that usual customs checks did not seem to apply to these individuals.
“Crown is a law unto itself. The laws that the rest of us have to follow mean nothing to Crown.” The driver testified.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Victorian state MP Fiona Patten have motivated for a full inquiry into Crown’s activities. Other whistleblowers are likely to step forward as Crown feels the pressure.
A looming employee strike
As if their existing set of challenges wasn’t enough Crown Casino’s employees are poised to go on strike. United Voice, the worker’s union, is preparing a ballot that may allow for strikes as soon as November 1st. This would be the first-ever strike by Crown employees in 16 years.
Employees are demanding better pay and job security. They have also stipulated a new three-year agreement that includes a 5% wage increase for each year. Crown has tabled an offer of 2.5%, leaving negotiations in limbo.
An additional demand is the reduction of the time it takes to move from a casual to a permanent role. Currently, the process takes 24 months and 70% of the casino’s staff is made up of casual employees, according to a union report.