Crown Casino has been fined $300,000 for removing betting options from poker machines last year.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) handed down the fine and a letter of censure after Crown was found to have hidden certain buttons with blanking plates on 17 of their machines.
This meant that users could only bet the minimum or maximum amounts, and whistleblowers from the casino said this was intended to increase losses for patrons by forcing them to make bigger bets.
Altering gambling machines is not permitted without the regulator’s approval, and the VCGLR said Crown’s actions had violated the Gambling Regulation Act 2003.
In a statement Crown said that the indiscretion “wasn’t deliberate,” and that they acted quickly to end the trial of the button blanking following a complaint.
“The decision to conduct the trial was made by a small group of Crown staff who did not believe approval was required and who failed to consult internally, or with the VCGLR, to check whether approval was required before commencing the trial,” it said.
Crown initially denied the allegations, and said it still maintained that the trial did not need approval from the governing body, but accepted the penalties handed down.
As part of the letter of censure, Crown will be required to update their compliance framework within the next six months and explain how the framework will prevent issues in the future.
The punishment may be viewed as too lenient by some, as the Melbourne casino saw revenue of more than $1.1 billion for the first half of this financial year.
The VCGLR said it is the largest fine ever handed down to Crown.