Vic Crown Casino slapped with $120m fines

Melbourne's Crown Casino has been slapped with a record $120 million in fines for breaching gambling laws spanning more than a decade, including consistently failing to stop people gaming for long periods.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has taken disciplinary action against Crown for ongoing misconduct, imposing two fines.

The breaches include allowing patrons to gamble for upwards of 24 hours without a break and failing to stop patrons from using plastic picks to hold down pokie machine buttons.

A 2021 royal commission found the Southbank casino had breached its code of conduct for the responsible service of gambling over about 12 years.

VGCCC chairwoman Fran Thorn said the casino prioritised revenue maximisation over its obligations to protect patrons.

"For a long time, Crown had promoted itself as having the world's best approach to problem gambling. Nothing could be further from the truth," Ms Thorn told reporters on Monday.

VGCCC applied a $100 million fine, marking the first time it has imposed the maximum penalty since being handed stronger enforcement powers.

Ms Thorn said the casino ignored warnings about changing its "conservative" policy on play periods in 2018, which was problematic as many patrons could have been protected.

Stories of loss and suicide attempts linked to gambling were heard at last year's Royal Commission and raised serious concerns.

A second fine of $20 million was imposed due to Crown's failure to prevent patrons from using devices to hold down pokie machine buttons, which allowed patrons to play continuously and on multiple machines at the same time.

In 2019, Crown ignored requests to stop supplying the button picks and to take necessary steps to ensure they were not used by patrons.

The VGCCC said it is considering further disciplinary action against Crown related to the other findings of the royal commission.

Earlier this year, Crown agreed to a $9 billion takeover by global private equity group Blackstone and the VGCCC approved the deal in June.

In a statement, Crown Resorts said its new leadership team is implementing reform.

"We are genuinely remorseful for the failings of the past, and we are committed to becoming a world leader in the delivery of safe and responsible gaming and entertainment," the statement reads.

"The recently appointed new leadership team at Crown is driving a whole-of-company transformation program, designed to uplift the culture and build a better Crown which exceeds the expectations of our stakeholders."

The Victorian government said it was working to better regulate gambling across the state, pointing to the creation of the VGCCC and its greater powers to impose larger fines.

The fines are the latest in a string of troubles and inquiries for the gambling giant across the country.

Last year's Bergin inquiry found Crown was unfit to open its upscale $2 billion Sydney casino.

Gambling operations opened in August at the Barangaroo tower after the company was forced to overhaul its board, management and procedures.

Last month, an independent monitor was appointed to oversee Perth's casino as Crown works to establish its suitability to hold a licence there.

The WA royal commission this year found Crown was unsuitable to run the casino but gave the operator two years to clean up its act.

Monday's fines marks the second time the VGCCC has taken disciplinary action against Crown since acquiring stronger enforcement powers, totalling $200 million.

In May, it fined Crown $80 million over its China Union Pay scheme, after the casino facilitated the illegal transfer of more than $160 million in funds between 2012 and 2016.