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Western Australia’s Gaming Regulators To Face Crown Inquiry

The chair of Western Australia's gaming regulator is set to be the first witness to front a royal commission into Crown Perth.

PERTH, Australia — A royal commission into Crown Perth is set to hear evidence from representatives of Western Australia’s gaming regulator.

Gaming and Wagering Commission chair Duncan Ord is expected on May 10 to be the inquiry’s first witness at a hearing in Perth.

Crown Perth is a luxury resort in Western Australia consisting of three hotels, a convention center, spa, and entertainment facilities.

Other witnesses slated to appear in coming weeks are Gaming and Wagering Commission members Barry Sargeant and Katie Hodson-Thomas, Western Australia’s chief casino officer Mark Beecroft and his predecessor Michael Connolly.

Connolly stood aside from his role in February amid questions about his friendships with Crown staff.

Gaming and Wagering Commission chair Duncan Ord said he had no formal training in casino regulation before assuming the role. (Woodside Energy @WoodsideEnergy/Twitter)

It emerged he had taken Crown employees, who were not senior managers or executives, fishing on his trailer boat in a social setting.

Ord said in a statement at the time that Connolly had fully declared any potential or perceived conflict of interest arising from the friendships.

Crown’s executive chair Helen Coonan is among several current or former directors who have also been granted leave to appear as witnesses at a later date.

The inquiry, which officially opened last month, will examine whether Western Australia’s decades-old gambling legislation remains fit for purpose.

It is being led by three commissioners: former Supreme Court justices Neville Owen and Lindy Jenkins and former Western Australia auditor-general Colin Murphy.

They are expected to deliver an interim report by June 30, and a final report with findings and recommendations by Nov 14.

Crown’s executive chair Helen Coonan is among several current or former directors who have been granted leave to appear as witnesses at a later date. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image)

A bombshell New South Wales report into the company’s operations earlier this year found Crown was not suitable to hold the license for a Sydney casino because it had facilitated money laundering through bank accounts held by subsidiaries.

Owen said the Western Australia inquiry would be informed by the New South Wales Bergin probe as well as a royal commission being undertaken in Victoria.

He said the commission would focus on two strands — the regulation of casinos in Western Australia and the suitability of Crown Perth to hold a casino license.

Western Australia’s Gaming and Wagering Commission has already directed Crown Perth to no longer hold junkets and to obtain the commission’s approval to establish gaming bank accounts in a bid to prevent any further possible wrongdoing.

Falling under the Gaming and Wagering Commission Act 1987 and the Casino Control Act 1984, the Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia is accountable for regulating and upholding the integrity of legal racing and gambling activities for Western Australian residents to take part in.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Nikita Nikhil)

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