Independent NSW MP Justin Field has introduced legislation to prevent the Crown group of companies from claiming compensation for any losses incurred as a result of changes to NSW Casino regulations in response to the current Crown Casino Inquiry.
The legislation (attached) tabled in the Legislative Council today, will override the agreement between Crown and the NSW Government in 2014 for a compensation regime in the event Crown’s licence was cancelled or regulatory decisions taken that could impact on Crown’s future profits.
The State Crown Financial Deed outlines a ‘compensation regime’ including allowing for compensation to be claimed up to 10.5 times any negative financial impacts of regulatory decisions (pp42-46).
Independent NSW MLC Justin Field said: "The agreement between Crown and the Government suggests any action taken as a result of this inquiry to prevent organised crime and money laundering at a future Barangaroo Casino could trigger a compensation claim by Crown. That's outrageous.
“The effect of the agreement is that the regulator and the Government risks a compensation claim by Crown, potentially in the order of hundreds of millions of dollars, should the Authority, the Government or the Parliament seek to regulate in the public interest.
“The Parliament and the regulator should never have had its ability to regulate in the public interest undermined as a result of a commercial agreement. This Bill seeks to remedy that totally unacceptable situation.
The inquiry was called by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority following a series of media reports of links between Crown’s casino operations across Australia and organised crime figures, as well as the use of junket operators to facilitate money laundering. The inquiry is considering whether or not Crown is a suitable person to hold a casino licence in NSW and what changes might be needed to NSW casino and gambling rules.
Earlier this week the inquiry heard closing statements from counsel assisting the inquiry “That a subsidiary of Crown may have engaged in criminal acts in respect of the laundering of money is simply astonishing," and that it did not matter whether money laundering happened at Crown because the company was "ignorant" or "apathetic" to the risks, because either made it unfit to keep the licence for its new Sydney casino.
“This bill seeks to remove any question that Crown can claim compensation for their failures as a company to address the clear risks from their business model that it would facilitate money laundering. I will now write to the Government and Opposition seeking their support for this bill and ensure that the gambling regulator is free of any concerns about potential compensation when considering the appropriate response to the inquiry’s findings,” Mr Field said.