Crown promises the safest casino in the world with new carded play

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Crown Melbourne is promising to be the safest casino in the world with the introduction of a new swipe card forcing poker machine players to set binding limits on losses and time spent gambling.

The casino – which came under intense scrutiny after the 2021 Finkelstein royal commission concluded it had engaged in “disgraceful” misconduct – said the introduction of the mandatory cards from Thursday signalled a “new era of transparency and commitment that has not been in the gaming and entertainment industry before”.

From today, players using Crown Melbourne’s 2500 poker machines will be required to use a swipe card to set maximum losses and time spent.Credit: Jason South

“Crown’s ambition is to operate the safest casinos in the world, and we are proud to pioneer this transformative and world-first shift with the introduction of carded play at Crown Melbourne,” Crown Resorts chief executive Ciaran Carruthers said.

Under the changes, gamblers using any of Crown’s 2500 poker machines will have to set maximum limits on how much money they are prepared to lose and how much time they are prepared to spend playing.

Punters will also get player activity statements, detailing ongoing spending and playing habits.

The new system, which will eventually be applied across the state’s other 26,380 poker machines in pubs, clubs and RSLs, comes at a tricky time for the casino.

Crown Resorts CEO Ciaran Carruthers.

This week The Australian Financial Review reported that Carruthers was facing an investigation initiated by Crown over allegations he intervened to allow patrons to gamble even though they had been blocked by security.

As reported by this masthead, Crown wrote to employees on Wednesday confirming it had engaged a legal firm to investigate two separate allegations that Carruthers had intervened to allow blocked patrons onto the gaming room floor, and asking them to come forward with any other allegations.

Last year, Crown Resorts was also hit with a maximum $100 million fine for the first time for failing to stop people from gambling for more than 24 hours straight at the Southbank complex. This year it was fined $30 million for a past practice (under the previous owners) of illegally allowing punters to gamble by signing over thousands of uncleared bank cheques to the value of at least $1.5 billion.

The Age has extensively covered allegations of poor governance at Crown, including allegations of money laundering and the encouragement of problem gambling.

In August, former premier Daniel Andrews announced what he branded the toughest gambling and anti-money laundering measures in Australia, with all pubs and clubs forced to introduce carded play.

Under the changes, players in all gaming venues will be forced to use a card to sign in and set loss limits. So-called “load limits” – the maximum amount of money a player can feed into a poker machine at a time – will also be cut from $1000 to $100, while all venues except Crown will face mandatory closure periods between 4am and 10am.

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