October 2017 was a terrible day for Crown Casino since the independent MP Andrew Wilkie presented in Parliament a 30-minute video of whistleblowers, previously working at the Melbourne location, reporting several illegal activities taking place. This was part of his PokieLeaks campaign, suggesting Crown was just one of the many casinos engaging in such practices.

The following were reported by the ex Crown Casino employees in the video:

  • Hiding large transactions made by players – possible aid to money laundering activities
  • Overlooking drug abuse in the Crown Casino premises – hoping it would lead to increased spending
  • Encouraging and making autoplay possible in pokies – illegal in Victoria
  • Avoiding or overlooking misuse of identification – escaping AUSTRAC ($10,000+ transactions must be reported there)
  • Overseeing family members’ abuse
  • Removing low-limit betting options
  • Erasing the history of pokies machines
  • Reports showing half the legal payout rates
  • Supporting and overlooking excessive gambling

Andrew Wilkie claimed to have fact-checked all claims, which he must provide since Crown Resorts Limited requested the evidence about his allegations.

Update – the allegations led to a court battle, where Crown Casino was fined $300,000. This concerned the tampering of 17 pokies machines’ bet limits, which were proved to be accurate and crosschecked by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR). The verdict came three weeks after Crown Casino denied the allegations.

#1 Encouraging Higher Pokies Bets

Several employees reported that Crown Casino employees were tampering with the pokies machines to disable certain supported functions. The lower bets weren’t possible, leaving players with a few much higher betting options. How did they do that?

Imagine having ten betting options starting from $0.10 to $10 per round. The lower option was available, but the average betting options weren’t. As a result, when players wanted to stake more or did so due to frustration, they had to go all the way in.

This happened without informing the outside regulators or the pokies maintenance team.

#2 Encouraging Compulsive Betting

Autoplay is not legal in Victoria for several years now. As a result, the pokies come designed without this feature. A whistleblower reported that Crown Casino employees provided players with plastic pieces that stack the bet button to continually wager without requiring any action from players. Essentially, turning the pokies machines into autoplay mode, despite being illegal.

Despite the whistleblower complaining and saying this is not right, he got hard pressed to encourage players to use this trick.

#3 Clearing Pokies Previous Betting History

Crown pokies, like any legal pokies machines, work on two primary principles. The RNG is software that randomizes the outcomes, and the RTP is the theoretical return to the player in the long run. The latter is determined based on how much money has been put into each machine.

Traditional, land-based pokies machines hold more in their early days and pay out significant amounts after years in operation. That’s standard practice, so casinos like Crown don’t go broke overnight. Clearing the history of the machines, therefore, removed significant winning potential from players.

Unfortunately, clearing the memory (RAM) of a pokie machine is legal at Crown Casino and other Melbourne casinos, offering a legal way out of paying players large sums. The whistleblower highlighted that all machines get cleared within five years, which is telling.

#4 Real Payout Return Rates

Land-based machines are rated at an 85% average RTP. This means that when players theoretically wager $1,000,000, they will get $850,000 back. That’s bad as it is, when removing the element of luck from the equation, but an ex-worker reported that they witnessed different data in real-time.

Crown Casino employees review each machine to see daily, monthly and yearly returns. He said that some machines did pay the average, while a few were slightly over it, but the vast majority paid about 40% of the money invested back to players. That’s a staggering half of the official numbers.

This was witnessed on machines placed at the casino for over a month, which draws an entirely different picture of what we know about Crown Casino and other renowned brick-and-mortar casino locations.

#5 Lack of Regulation & Monitoring of Pokies

Official bodies ensure that each casino provides a fair gaming experience. As fair as possible since the house always has an edge.

The whistleblowers reported that the staff responsible for the pokies machines audits were clueless. And since they lacked basic knowledge, they didn’t bother running actual software and fairness tests. Instead, they would check if the essential functions, like the buttons and screens, were working.  

#6 Lack of Responsible Gambling

Casinos should welcome players, but they should also protect them when losing touch or spending significantly more than they can afford. That’s one of their obligations since we are all well aware of how far gambling addiction can go.

However, an employee reported that many players would end up sleeping, urinating themselves, or even defecating on the machine. That happened several times due to excessive drinking or complete loss of sensibility.

The casino’s response to such incidents? Provide them with new clothes to continue playing pokies at Crown Casino.

#7 Ignoring Abuse and Mistreatment of Family Members

Executives at Crown Casino instructed employees to ignore violence between spouses, family members, or anything linked to visitors. They suggested that due to many of the players visiting from other countries, such incidents were to be expected.

Former staff reported even seeing women bleeding due to aggravated assault by their husbands or partners. Even then, they were instructed to separate the couples for a day instead of calling the police or removing them from the premises.

2022 Updates for Crown Casino Pokies: Fines & Response

After years of campaigning by MPs against Crown Casino, aligning with the above allegations, the Victorian government introduced a new regulation. From now on, players would have to set a fixed loss limit before registering at Crown and other Victoria casinos.

The Minister of the VCGLR, Melissa Horne, said she would look into further potential measures following the scandals linked to Crown Casino. Features available at online pokies like time and spending limits within games are not yet possible to implement at physical casinos, but the minister said these must be enforced within 2025. A daily $1,000 cash transaction limit for each patron has also been suggested but not yet approved. The affordability checks are out of the bill already.

The above and further regulations are to be introduced due to the allegation discussed above and the proven money laundering scheme conducted between Crown and China Union Pay. The fine was set at $80 million for Crown Casino, while the profits were estimated at $32 million.

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Until recently, pokies machines were only available at land-based casinos like the Crown in Australia. That has since changed, with several offshore gambling sites accepting Australian players. Due to lower running costs and independent checks of online pokies, incidents like with Crown Casino pokies are out of the question.

Safety is ensured online by iGaming authorities like Curacao licensing casinos and gaming providers. The online pokies machines are also reviewed at random times by 3rd party official bodies like eCogra and TST Labs. As such, online pokies rigged reports or scam incidents are non-existent. That’s, of course, if you are playing at legal and regulated online casinos, such as the following:

Welcome bonuses, free spins no deposit, and bulletproof online pokies are some of the benefits of playing online pokies instead of the games at Crown Casino.

Whistleblower reports were taken and paraphrased from the BBC and Daily Mail.

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