Shares Fall After Crown Resorts Accused of Poker-Machine Fixing

Crown Resorts Ltd. based in Australia has been accused on Wednesday of tampering with its poker machines, when a lawmaker played a video of whistleblowers during parliament, which helped to send shares tumbling at the casino company.

These allegations, which have been denied by Crown, prompted Victoria state gambling authorities to say they would be starting an investigation. The state of Victoria is where Crown has its flagship casino.

Andrew Wilkie, an anti-gambling campaigner and lower house member who is an independent, used his parliamentary privilege, which allows lawmakers to make allegations of a sensitive nature without having legal repercussions, to publicly display the video.

These accusations represent another new problem for Crown, which is 50% owned by James Packer, a billionaire, after the arrest of over a dozen of its employees in China caused it to pull back from its ambitious plan of global expansion.

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 designed to regulate the gambling rates.

In addition, they allege Crown encouraged its customers to disguise identities in order to avoid being detected by AUSTRAC the government agency for anti-money laundering, and the casino also failed to stop domestic violence and drug use on the premises.

If the video allegations are true, it suggests evidence of systematic problems instead of just a rogue individual, said Wilkie during his new conference.

Wilkie added that he verified identities of those on the video as being former workers at Crown, but did not say how the video was made. Wilkie, a former intelligence officer has campaigned for a long time against slots.

In a prepared statement, Crown said it rejected the video’s allegations and that Wilkie should provide immediately to authorities all the information related to what had been alleged.

Crown shares fell by 4% Wednesday.

The governmental agency that oversees the Melbourne casino of Crown’s, said that it takes claims made of this type very seriously and would be carrying out a thorough investigation.

The agency added that it currently was carrying out a routine review of the casino license of Crown, one that is conducted once each five years.

A spokesperson for AUSTRAC said the state agency takes allegations of any money laundering and non-compliance of counter terrorism financing seriously and is going to examine the allegations.

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