WA gaming regulators to face Crown royal commission

Michael RamseyAAP
VideoA Royal Commission into Crown Perth will begin on Monday

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 Monday to be the inquiry’s first witness at a hearing in Perth.

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

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

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

Mr Ord said in a statement at the time that Mr 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 WA’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 WA auditor-general Colin Murphy.

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

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

Mr Owen said the WA inquiry would be informed by the NSW 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 WA and the suitability of Crown Perth to hold a casino licence.

WA’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.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails