Crown director Harold Mitchell urged to resign by gambling regulator

Pressure is mounting on Crown director Harold Mitchell to resign amid a gambling probe into the embattled gaming giant.

Four directors, including chief executive Ken Barton, have quit after a scathing report deemed the company ‘not suitable’ to hold a Sydney casino licence.

But Mr Mitchell is yet to succumb to public pressure, and the gambling watchdog wants him gone.

Speaking to 2GB’s Ben Fordham, NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority chair Phillip Crawford said the company had made its stance clear.

“We think he needs to move on,” he said.

‘There’s an ongoing dialogue there … watch this space.”

The company confirmed Mr Barton’s departure in a statement on Monday, saying he would step down both as CEO and managing director immediately.

Chair Helen Coonan will also take on the role of executive chair while Crown Resorts looks for someone to replace Mr Barton, who will provide assistance to her “to ensure a smooth handover”.

“Ken joined Crown more than a decade ago and has played an invaluable role with the business,” Ms Coonan said.

Mr Barton was excoriated in findings handed down last week from the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry into Crown’s suitability to retain the gambling licence for its new, yet-to-open $2.2bn casino at Barangaroo.

Mr Crawford said it would still be weeks or even months before a decision was made on Barangaroo.

“It will be down the track … it won’t be years but Helen (Coonan) is working pretty quickly,” he said.

Following the release of the bombshell report that noted James Packer’s influence on the company had had “disastrous” consequences there were a wave of departures from the business.

Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston stepped down from the board.

That was followed by calls for Mr Barton and high-profile director and former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou to resign if the company wanted to keep the Barangaroo licence.

The inquiry found that Mr Barton failed to act when red flags were raised about bank accounts at the centre of money laundering allegations. Commissioner Patricia Bergin described the inaction as “totally inexplicable”.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation has a range of investigations into Crown Melbourne under way, some of which began before the Bergin inquiry.

Findings of the inquiry suggested the Packer-backed casino was not a suitable licensee holder and its state gaming clearance should be revoked.

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