Former casino director front Crown royal commission to talk responsible gaming

By Noah Taylor Updated
Crown CEO Steve McCann exits the business

A highly experienced former casino director has told the Perth Casino royal commission that Crown needs to do more in its responsible service obligations.

News.com.au reports that Nigel Morrison, a highly experienced casino executive who was the boss of SkyCity Entertainment Group for eight years, said New Zealand and South Australian authorities were in particular very focused on ensuring the company’s casinos in those jurisdictions had “best practice harm minimisation measures.”

It took years of negotiating together, but SkyCity achieved “very good, best of breed practices,” he said.

“And recognising, I would say, that it’s not science, it does require a range of initiatives and not all can be evidence-based. 

“We entered into commitments to trial some things with the New Zealand regulator and agreed to other things with the South Australian regulator,” Mr Morrison said.

“In contrast…some years ago, Crown was, I would say, best practice in responsible service of gaming.

He said the company was focusing on bettering its responsible service of gaming and keen to progress.

SkyCity’s responsible service of gaming approach outlined in comparison to Crown

Asked if Crown needed to lift its game to SkyCity’s level, Mr Morrison replied: “There are certain elements where that should be the case.”

“All states want casinos to operate at a high standard of responsible service of gaming…what I would like to see is Crown get to a position of best of breed…across all of it’s gaming properties.”

Gaming licences were privileges and casino operators had to deserve them, Mr Morrison added.

His frank comments come after damning findings from the Victorian royal commission were released publicly.

Commissioner Finkelstein said the manner in which Crown Melbourne dealt with the many vulnerable customers who had a gambling problem was “perhaps the most damning discovery” by the probe.

“The cost to the community of problem gambling is enormous,” the former Federal Court judge said.

“Crown Melbourne had for years held itself out as having a world’s best approach to problem gambling.

“Nothing can be further from the truth.

“The commission heard many distressing stories from people whose lives were ruined by gambling but whose situation might have been improved if casino staff had carried out their obligations under Crown Melbourne’s gambling code.”

Royal commission hears stories of those suffering gambling addiction

The Victorian royal commission heard the story of one woman who sold her house, lost most of the proceeds gambling, gambled for 52 hours straight in an unsuccessful bid to win her final $5000 back and was only once asked “Are you still here?”, with no follow up.

She climbed the Westgate Bridge with the intention of ending her lift but was fortunately started to her senses by a passing ship underneath.

Another woman spent years gambling at Crown Melbourne and ultimately went to jail aged 64 for stealing money from her employer to pay for her habit.

She gave up her inheritance and all her savings to repay the debt, now lives a modest life with “nothing to show for all her years of hard work,” and is heartbroken and anguished, the royal commission heard.

Commission Finkelstein also cited a “horrific”story provided by a gambling counsellor of a woman whose husband beat her after he lost money gambling, “blaming her that she brings bad luck” and forcing her to do sex work to bring in cash.

The findings of the WA probe are due in March.

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