Problem gamblers detail their gambling story for Victorian royal commission

by William Brown Last Updated
Problem gamblers detail their gambling story for Victorian royal commission

Problem gamblers have made anonymous submissions to Victoria’s royal commission into Crown Resorts, detailing their struggles with gambling addiction.

News.com.au reports that the royal commission has heard how gamblers spent long hours sinking their fortunes into the casino and “no one ever asked me if I was OK”.

In one anonymous submission, the writer said she would spend most or all of her weekly pay at Crown.

“I had a Crown loyalty card that gave me access to a special room, parking, free drinks, which made me feel special,” the submission read.

“I was sometimes there at 6.30am pressing one-cent bets at a time just to keep going and my husband would ring me to see where I was.

“No one ever asked me if I was OK. I never saw them ask anyone else if they were OK.”

The writer estimates having spent “at least” $600,000 on gambling.

“I’ve wasted so much money that I could have used to secure my future. I’ve wasted part of my life that could have been so different.”

Others alleged Crown had given them gifts, including food, to bring them in.

In another anonymous submission, the writer alleged they were given free flights and accommodation, with the host stipulating the gifts required them to bring a specific amount of money.

On one occasion, that was $10,000, which they borrowed, and they were offered $1500 worth of free chips to gamble.

“If I introduce my friends, and if the friends carry big amount of money…to gamble, they will also be provided with free tickets and a hotel,” the submission read.

“If my friends play big, the host will keep coming after me.

“Crown knows how to entice us into the endless circle.”

Crown work with junkets and potentially unpaid state taxes lead to commission extension

In November, Crown announced it would cease all activity with junket tour operators at the centre of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry, where evidence emerged that some groups, with known links to organised crime, had laundered money through Crown’s Melbourne and Perth casinos.

The junkets mainly involved Asian high-rollers, who were lured to gamble at Crown with free accommodation, food, drinks and other gifts.

“Crown will only recommence dealing with a junket operator if that junket operator is licensed or otherwise approved or sanctioned by all gaming regulators in the states in which Crown operate,” the casino giant said at the time.

Another anonymous writer said in his submission to the Victorian probe he had lost everything – his marriage, home, job and time and chances to watch his children grow up after his gambling spiralled out of control and got him in trouble with the law.

Many submissions were critical of Crown having a monopoly in the Melbourne gambling market, while others who had been deemed “advantage players” after consistently winning complained about being treated aggressively and/or excluded from the venues.

Other submissions included the Monash Addiction Research Centre, which called for regulatory attention to suburban pubs and clubs, where $2.7 billion was lost on poker machines annually, compared with $1.7 billion at casinos, according to data from the Queensland Government’s Statistician’s Office.

After Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino granted a request to continue the investigation into Crown until mid-October, Crown’s executive chairman Helen Coonan said any shortcomings identified by the probe would be addressed.

“The board and I are committed to making Crown a stronger, more transparent and respected company,” Ms Coonan said.

“We have initiated a sweeping program of significant reforms, enhancements and personnel changes.

“We cannot change the past, but we can be absolutely steadfast in the approach we take to driving the culture and transparency of the company into the future.”

Mr Merlino also agreed to increase the royal commission’s funding from $10 million to $19.75 million, saying Commissioner Ray Finkelstein is now investigating a wider range of matters due to the seriousness of the evidence produced so far.

“This relates to the corporate culture of Crown Melbourne, gambling harm minimisation and claims brought forward in evidence so far, including allegations Crown Melbourne underpaid casino tax,” the state government said,” the state government said. 

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