The Victorian Greens have called tomorrow a moment of truth for the Victorian Government and say their response to the Royal Commission into Crown must include breaking up with the casino giant once and for all.
The Royal Commission laid bare years of corrupt behaviour by Crown including links to international crime syndicates and money laundering. This was enabled by a lenient state government and ineffectual regulator.
And now, with the Royal Commission’s final report due to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow, the Greens are urging the government to go back to the drawing board and rethink how a Melbourne casino should operate.
During the last sitting week, the Greens introduced a bill that outlined how the Victorian casino should operate going forward.
The Greens’ plan includes:
- Strong harm minimisation protections including halving the number of pokies machines, dollar bet limits, spin restrictions, withdrawal limits, mandatory pre commitment, and reduced operating hours
- Increasing tax rates to make the Casino pay its fair share, particularly:
- Doubling the tax paid on gaming machines from the current low rate of 31.57% to 63.14%
- Doubling the tax paid on gaming tables, from 21.25% to 42.5%
- Implementing a high-roller tax on Crown’s VIP program
- Banning political donations from the gambling industry
- Closing the revolving door between politics and the gambling industry by banning politicians and senior ministerial advisors from working in the gambling industry for five years
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said a lot was riding on how the state government responded to the report tomorrow, and that it would be extraordinary if Crown was able to keep its casino licence given the evidence heard by the Royal Commission.
Crown has benefitted from special treatment for decades, including paying less on tax, having unrestricted gaming machines, and having the ability to block proposed harm minimisation measures.
Ms Ratnam said the status quo was no longer sustainable, and that it was time for the government to break up with Crown and start again.
The Greens also want to see a fair transition package provided for workers who may be impacted by changes to the casino’s operations, so that they’re supported through any upheavals.
Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“After allowing Crown to get away with dodgy behaviour for years, tomorrow will be a moment of truth for the Victorian Government.
“Will they continue to stick their heads in the sand and let Crown off with a light slap on the wrist or will they do the right thing and break up with Crown for good?
“What’s clear is that the Royal Commission has provided us with the perfect opportunity to go back to the drawing board and rethink how we operate a casino in Melbourne.
“Our plan would reduce the harms of gambling on the community, prevent corruption from being allowed to fester, and support workers impacted by any transitional period.”