In most of the world, casinos are the primary locations where you might expect to find electronic slot machines. In the United States, for example, people flock to gambling meccas such as Atlantic City or Las Vegas, with the hope of changing their fortunes with the help of a game of chance.
In Australia, however, pokies, as they are known over here, are ubiquitous. They’re in hotels and pubs, from the largest cities to the smallest of towns. Despite representing less than 1% of the whole world’s population, Australia houses 20% of its slot machines, and more than half of those can be found outside of casinos. It is not surprising, then, that Australia has the highest rate of gambling in the world, with more than 80% of its population participating in at least one type of gambling.
The first Australian horse racing meeting was held in Hyde Park in Sydney in 1810; the first Australian lottery was held at the Sydney Cup in 1881; and the first legal poker machines in Australia were operated by licensed clubs beginning in 1956.
As with most forms of entertainment so widely enjoyed for a long time, there are always those who try to make an illegal or unjust profit. Australia has been dealing with illegal or shady gambling places for years, but with the help of new leadership, it seems to have finally found a good solution.
A Committee to Enforce the Law
In 1992, Congress passed the Casino Control Act, which established the Independent Casino Commission (NICC). It was established to strengthen regulatory monitoring of the casino industry in order to mitigate the risks and resulting damage.
With its strong and transparent monitoring, the NICC holds almost singular importance in restoring and keeping the public’s faith in the New South Wales casino sector. As a result, recent changes in leadership have taken place in the hope of bringing more palpable results. Philip Crawford was named the next chief commissioner of the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission (NICC) on August 31. He used to be the chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA).
Crawford was encouraged in his new appointment by the Minister for Hospitality and Racing, Kevin Anderson, which stated that with his guidance, “NSW casinos will be monitored in line with the new laws and face strong disciplinary action for compliance failures, past and present”. Crawford will be assisted by a crew of experts in the field of casino regulation and other regulated businesses, such as Craig Sahlin, Stephen Parbery, Janine Rolfe, and Murray Smith.
It seems that the new committee is more than ready to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. One of Philip Crawford’s first major actions since becoming chair of the NICC was to issue a public warning to New South Wales casinos on 9News. He stated that his newly formed commission’s stringent measures would go into force without delay. More promises were made that the NICC will now be much more careful and use a wide range of new tools to make sure that casinos take seriously the harsh penalties that will now be put in place if they break the rules of the licenses the state has given them.
Recent Scandals Fan the Flames
This new appointment comes amidst two outrageous scandals involving two of Australia’s largest operators, The Star Casino and Crown Casino.
Star Casino was recently the subject of not one but three investigative articles, linking the company to fraud, money laundering, and organized crime. The Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, and the television show 60 Minutes all revealed that Star executives were given warnings about the company’s poor anti-money-laundering measures, and yet chose to not take any preventative action. According to the probe, the business wooed high-roller gamblers with ties to organized crime or foreign influence from 2014 to 2021.
Crown Casino, on the other hand, has already been fined 80 million AUD for illegally classifying gambling transactions done through Chinese bank cards as hotel services. As you might know, Australia is taking major steps towards deterring excessive gambling in casinos by not allowing the use of cards. Crown’s response was lackluster at best, simply stating that they acknowledged their failings and that they were actually in the process of reforming their company’s operational structure. They were, in the end, deemed unsuitable to hold a license but are still allowed to run their largest establishment under strict supervision in the hopes that they will be able to mend their ways.
As such, the NICC’s first and most difficult task will be to restore people’s faith in Australian casinos, and the best place to start would be to continue the investigation into The Star Casino and find out whether their license should be revoked or not. Crawford says he has noticed that The Star has a big problem with its culture and that the lengths they went to hide bad behavior and unethical behavior from not only their own board but also from regulators was awful and very disappointing.
Gambling Enthusiasts Support the Approach
The most affected parties by unlawful casino practices are the gamblers themselves, most of whom would like the peace of mind offered by the knowledge that they are spending their time and money in reputable establishments. One such game-of-chance enthusiast, Ryan White, CEO of one of Australia’s biggest casino affiliate websites (True Blue Casinos), has clearly stated in a recent blog post that “We here at True Blue Casinos applaud his opening statements and commitments to wipe out misconduct at Australian casinos.” The website also wants to give gamblers correct and up-to-date information about casinos and changes in the world of games of chance.
It would seem that the entire continent’s eyes are now on Philip Crawford and his new NICC team, and we hope he manages to achieve a safer and more trustworthy casino environment for all Australians.