Sydney Times

CITY OF SYDNEY NEWS

NSW GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO BERGIN INQUIRY

Written by NSW Government

NSW GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO BERGIN INQUIRY

The NSW Government has agreed to support all 19 recommendations from the Bergin Inquiry Report on the regulation of casinos in NSW and the suitability of Crown Resorts to hold a restricted gaming facility licence.

 

Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said the NSW Government would establish an independent casino regulator and move to introduce the suite of legislative reforms recommended by Commissioner Bergin.

“The NSW Government response to the Bergin Inquiry will see a redesigned regulatory structure for casinos in NSW, with a clearer focus on addressing money laundering risks inherently associated with casino activities,” Mr Dominello said.

 

“It is critical the management and operation of casinos in NSW are free from criminal influence and exploitation.

“Committing to implement the 19 recommendations from Justice Bergin’s report is an important first step in the process of reforming the casino sector.

“The new casino regulator will be subject to detailed design work and will be funded via the casino supervisory levy.

“In addition, we will continue to monitor the current casino Royal Commissions in Victoria and Western Australia and consider any proposals for regulatory reform recommended by those inquiries, including stronger gambling harm minimisation measures,” Mr Dominello said.

The Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority continues to assess the suitability of Crown to hold a NSW restricted gaming facility licence and is responsible for determining the circumstances in which the Crown Sydney’s gaming facility is permitted to open.

NSW Government response to the Bergin Report:

Recommendation Government response

Recommendation 1

It is recommended that the Objects of the Casino Control Act 1992 (CCA) should be amended to include an additional object of ensuring that licensed casinos prevent money laundering activities within their casino operations.

Support

Recommendation 2

It is recommended that an independent casino regulator should be established by separate legislation as an independent, dedicated, stand- alone, specialist casino regulator with the necessary framework to meet the extant and emerging risks for gaming and casinos.

Support

Recommendation 3

It is recommended that the independent casino regulator should have the powers of a standing Royal Commission and be comprised of Members who are suitably qualified to meet the complexities of casino regulation in the modern environment

Support

Recommendation 4

It is recommended that the Casino Control Act should be amended to make clear that any decision about a casino licence and any disciplinary action that may be taken against a licensee is solely that of the ICC, and that any term of a regulatory agreement that has been entered into by the Government or the Authority is of no effect to the extent that it purports to fetter any power of the ICC arising under the Casino Control Act.

Support in part – this recommendation may be achieved through other means aside from legislative changes and requires further investigation.

Recommendation 5

It is recommended that the Casino Control Act should be amended to ensure the casino supervisory levy is paid to the independent casino regulator or recognised in the budget of the independent casino regulator.

Support

Recommendation 6

It is recommended that the Casino Control Act be amended to make provision for each casino operator to be required to engage an independent and appropriately qualified Compliance Auditor approved by the ICC, to report annually to the ICC on the casino operator’s compliance with its obligations under all regulatory statutes both Commonwealth and State in particular the Casino Control Act, the Casino Control Regulation and the terms of its licence.

Support

Recommendation 7

It is recommended that the Casino Control Act be amended to make provision in respect of the

Support

August 18, 2021

Recommendation Government response

Compliance Auditor’s obligations in line with the following:

If the Compliance Auditor, in the course of the performance of the Compliance Auditor’s duties, forms the belief that:

(a) activity within the casino operations may put the achievement of any of the objects of the Casino Control Act at risk; or

(b) a contravention of the Casino Control Act or the regulations or of any other Commonwealth or New South Wales Act regulating the casino operations has occurred or may occur;

the Compliance Auditor must immediately provide written notice of that belief concurrently to the casino operator and to the independent casino regulator.

Recommendation 8

It is recommended that consideration be given to an amendment to the Casino Control Act to include a provision similar to Singapore legislation for the concurrent reporting by the casino operator of suspicious transactions to AUSTRAC and the independent casino regulator.

Support

Recommendation 9

It is recommended that the casino operators’ licences should be amended to impose an obligation to monitor patron accounts and perform heightened customer due diligence, the breach of which provisions will be regarded as a breach of the Licence and give rise to possible disciplinary action.

Support

Recommendation 10

It is recommended that the Casino Control Act should be amended to require casino operators to obtain a Source of Funds Declaration from a patron for any cash over an amount determined by the independent casino regulator, modelled on the reform introduced in British Columbia discussed in Chapter 5.1 of the Bergin Report.

Support

Recommendation 11

It is recommended that the Casino Control Act should be amended to prohibit casino operators from dealing with junket operators.

Support in part – The design and implementation of a licensing regime for junkets, will be the prerogative of the new casino regulator.

Recommendation 12

It is recommended that the Casino Control Act should be amended to impose on any applicant for a casino licence an express requirement to prove that it is a suitable person by providing to the ICC “clear and convincing evidence” of that suitability. This should apply to all suitability assessments under the Casino Control Act, including in the context of retaining a

Support

August 18, 2021

casino licence or in any five yearly review or for approval as a close associate.

Recommendation Government response

Recommendation 13

It is recommended that the definition of “close associate” under the Casino Control Act be repealed and replaced to mean:

(a) any company within the corporate group of which the licensee or proposed licensee (Licensee) is a member;

(b) any person that holds an interest of 10 per cent or more in the Licensee or in any holding company of the Licensee (“holding company” as defined in the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) so as to capture all intermediate holding companies);

(c) any director or officer (within the meaning of those terms as defined in the Corporations Act) of the Licensee, of any holding company, or of any person that holds an interest of 10 per cent or more in the Licensee or any holding company; and

(d) any individual or company certified by the Authority as being a “close associate”.

Support

Recommendation 14

It is recommended that the Casino Control Act should be amended to include a provision that the cost of the investigation and determination of the suitability of any close associate of any applicant for a casino licence or any existing casino licensee be paid to the independent casino regulator in advance of the investigation and determination in the amount assessed by the regulator. Such amendment should include a provision for repayment of any over- estimate or payment of any shortfall against the estimate made by the independent casino regulator before the publication of the regulator’s determination.

Support

Recommendation 15

It is recommended that item 4 of Schedule 1 of the Casino Control Act be amended to ensure that any transaction involving the sale or purchase of an interest in an existing licensee or any holding company of a licensee which results in a person holding an interest of 10 per cent or more in a licensee or holding company of the licensee is treated as a “major change” event.

Support

Recommendation 16

It is recommended that the Casino Control Act be amended to provide that a person may not acquire, hold or transfer an interest of 10 per cent or more in a Licensee of a casino in New South Wales or any

Support

August 18, 2021

holding company of a Licensee without the prior approval of the ICC.

Recommendation Government response

Recommendation 17

It is recommended that an amendment be made to section 34 of the Casino Control Act to permit the regulator to apply to the Court for an injunction to restrain “any person” in respect of a breach of the above recommended provision or to obtain appropriate orders in connection with an interest acquired, held or transferred in breach of the provision

Support

Recommendation 18

It is recommended that the “gaming and liquor legislation” as defined in the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act be reviewed for the purpose of considering amendments to ensure clarity and certainty in relation to the powers to be given to the new independent specialist casino regulator and consequential enactment of amendments to relevant legislation.

Support

Recommendation 19

It is recommended that in any legislative review and/or consideration of legislative powers for the
ICC, it would be appropriate to consider an express provision to include ASIC as one of the relevant agencies to which the ICC may refer information. It would also be appropriate to consider the inclusion of any other relevant agency not already expressly included in the legislation.

Support

August 18, 2021

About the author

NSW Government

error: Content is protected !!