Crown pays back $61m in Vic gaming taxes

Crown has paid back $61 million in gaming taxes it owes the Victorian government in the wake of a punishing royal commission.

The inquiry into whether Crown can retain a licence for its Melbourne operations heard the Southbank casino may have underpaid up to $272 million in gaming taxes since 2012 after it wrote off certain pokies promotions as losses.

A Crown spokeswoman on Tuesday said the James Packer-backed group had paid back $37 million in underpaid taxes since 2012, as well as $24 million in penalty interest.

“Crown is continuing its review of other aspects of casino tax payments and will update the market once the review is complete,” the spokeswoman said.

Counsel assisting Adrian Finanzio SC in his closing submissions last week said Crown was not suitable to retain a licence for its Melbourne casino.

He said Crown had lost the public’s trust and reforms, if its licence was not ripped up, could take as long as two years.

“Crown Melbourne is not presently suitable to hold the casino licence,” Mr Finanzio told the royal commission.

“This is not a case of isolated or trifling indiscretions or breaches, capable of easy and quick rectification … no amount of restructuring can restore confidence in it as a fit and proper person to hold a licence.

“The evidence reveals serious misconduct, illegal conduct and highly inappropriate conduct, which has been encouraged or facilitated by a culture which has consistently put profit before all other considerations.”

Mr Finanzio also called for the heads of Crown chair Helen Coonan and Crown Melbourne chief Xavier Walsh.

But he said the call to revoke the licence of Crown Melbourne, which employs about 12,500 people – most of whom worked “honestly and diligently” – was not made lightly given the casino had been “part of the fabric of the city” for many years.

The inquiry, overseen by former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein QC, continues with closing submissions from Crown on August 3.

Commissioner Finkelstein will make his recommendation on Crown’s Melbourne licence by October 15.

“Wherever I look I see not just bad conduct but illegal conduct, improper conduct, unacceptable conduct, and it permeates the whole organisation,” he said previously.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews last week said while it was clear that what has gone on at Crown Melbourne “shouldn’t have gone on”, he would not comment further on the inquiry.

Mr Andrews has previously stated his willingness to rip up Crown’s Melbourne casino licence if recommended to do so.


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