(Adds background details, Crown’s statement, shares)
Nov 17 (Reuters) – Australian casino giant Crown Resorts Ltd on Tuesday said that when it resumes working with gambling tour operators, it will only work with those licensed and approved by all gaming regulators in the states the company operates in.
An inquiry was called by the casino regulator of New South Wales state after 2019 media reports accused Crown of dealing with gambling tour – or “junket” – operators with links to organised crime to bring Chinese high rollers to its current flagship asset in Melbourne.
Crown has been accused at an Australian regulatory inquiry of having a “culture of denial and arrogant indifference to compliance” in its dealings with these operators and that it ignored warning signs and breached an obligation to deal with people “of good repute”.
“Crown will only recommence dealing with a junket operator if that junket operator is licensed or otherwise approved or sanctioned by all gaming regulators in the States in which Crown operates,” it said in a statement.
In September 2020, Crown suspended all activity with these operators until June 2021 to undertake a review of its dealings with them.
The inquiry is widely expected to result in regulatory action against Crown’s founder and 36% shareholder James Packer and the company, which has two casinos and is banking its growth on a new 75-floor complex in Sydney that opens in December.
Australia’s financial crime agency has also begun investigating Crown on suspicion of failure to comply with anti-money-laundering protocols, while the country’s corporate regulator has also said it might open its own probe.
Crown’s shares traded as much as 1.4% higher, against a 0.2% gain on the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index. (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing)