The head of the New South Wales gaming regulator says more heads need to roll at Crown Resorts if the gaming giant is serious in trying to obtain a casino licence by April.
Speaking on ABC Radio on Thursday, NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority chair Philip Crawford confirmed Crown chief executive Ken Barton and high-profile director Andrew Demitirou needed to resign from the company, if the company wanted its $2.2bn Sydney Barangaroo venue to win back a gaming licence.
“There needs to be changes in the top and in senior management,” Mr Crawford told ABC Radio National.
“A lot of board changes, and that’s started already and we look forward to seeing a bit more of that.”
A special inquiry report by Patricia Bergin, SC, into Crown was tabled on Tuesday to the NSW state parliament, which determined the casino behemoth was fraught with corporate “arrogance” and not suitable to hold a gaming licence in the state.
The report found evidence Crown had allowed a slew of money-laundering activity to occur at its Melbourne and Perth casino through high-roller Asian junket tours, which had known links to organised crime.
ILGA’s report also questioned the amount of influence major shareholder James Packer had over the board and senior management.
Crown announced the shock resignations on Wednesday of Packer’s main entourage Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston, who were appointed to the board as nominees from the billionaire’s private company Consolidated Press Holdings.
That same afternoon, Crown announced director John Poynton’s consultancy arrangement with CPH had been terminated — effectively removing all Packer’s influence over the company’s board.
Mr Crawford said the regulator may push for more changes to the board, however further dialogue with Crown would be needed.
“They’ve got a lot of work to do,” Mr Crawford said. “They haven’t operated in this state yet and they may never.”
Mr Crawford said on Wednesday Crown would need to “blow itself up” in order to meet the NSW licensing requirements, with significant changes to the board and senior management needing to occur.
Ms Bergin has recommended amending the Casino Control Act so an entity may not acquire, hold or transfer an interest of 10 per cent or more in a casino licensee or its holding companies without the prior approval of a new dedicated regulator.