Australia: Crown Melbourne slapped with A$20 million fine for improper tax deduction claims

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The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has handed Crown Melbourne another fine of A$20 million for not paying the right amount of taxes over a long period of time.

With the latest fine, the current total amount fined by the Victorian regulator comes to A$250 million since the Finkelstein Royal Commission report was published in October 2021. Crown also had another fine of A$450 million slapped by the financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC last month.

Despite being allotted a two-year window to turn things around with the help of an independent manager, Crown was found ineligible to keep its Melbourne casino license due to compliance issues, prompting the most recent fine.

Crown has acknowledged its fault for wrongly claiming some tax exemptions and has paid the State of Victoria about A$61.5 million, which includes A$37.4 million in unpaid casino tax and A$24.1 million in penalty interest.

“Crown and other gaming licensees have important obligations to pay gaming taxes to the state. Not only did Crown breach its obligations by claiming tax deductions to which it was not entitled, Crown also made significant efforts at concealment,” said Fran Thorn, chairperson at VGCCC as quoted by Inside Asian Gaming.

Furthermore, the VGCCC claimed that they will not tolerate this kind of behavior and the fine was imposed as a way to send a message to other gambling operators as well.

This is not the first time that Crown has been fined. Previously, it was fined A$30 million for illegal bank cheque practices, A$120 million for responsible gambling failures and another A$80 million for illegal use of China UnionPay cards.

Speaking about the latest fine, Crown Melbourne CEO Mike Volkert said, “These historical breaches, decisions and actions have no place at Crown, and under new ownership and leadership, we are committed to an open, constructive, and transparent relationship with our regulators and stakeholders, as well as improving internal controls and our regulatory reporting requirements.”