Australian casino giant, Crown Resorts, has been slammed with a $300,000 fine by the state's gambling regulator. Crown was accused of tampering with poker machines and not obtaining the necessary permission by the regulator to do so, as the law requires.
Between March and April last year, Crown initiated a trial run at its Melbourne casino, where it hid certain buttons on 17 of its gaming machines, so that only the minimum and maximum betting options were visible to the player.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, issued the fine - the largest ever issued to the group - and said that the size of the fine reflected the seriousness with which the authority considered the matter.
The authority said that the actions by Crown varied certain gaming machines and thus approval had been required.
"Crown's failure to obtain approval means it has contravened the Gambling Regulation Act 2003," said the authority in a statement on Friday.
Crown was asked to provide an updated compliance framework to show how a similar event will not happen again.
Crown's Actions Not Deliberate
The Victorian gambling authority said in its statement that Crown Resorts had not deliberately contravened the gambling act and that the company had fully participated with the probe against it.
Crown also made it very clear that hiding the buttons did not at any time affect the poker machines' return to player ratio.
"While Crown Melbourne's position throughout this process was that the gaming machine trial did not require the prior approval of the commission, Crown Melbourne respects the commission's decision, which brings this process to a close," said Crown in its own statement.
MP: Fine Not Large Enough
As expected, anti-gambling lobbyists were out in full force, following the fining of Crown.
Independent federal MP, Andrew Wilkie, was pleased with the fact that Crown was fined but said that it was not high enough.
"This is a very serious offence for which Crown should stand condemned," he said.
Wilkie also said that he did not accept Crown's explanation that the covering of buttons was only a trial, "because there is an abundance of evidence that the practice has been more widespread."