The truth always comes out and Crown Resorts is learning the lesson the hard way. The Australian casino operator, once at the top of the hospitality charts in the country, has slid from grace due to a number of issues that have plagued it over the past several years. It has been accused of tampering with gaming machines, enabling possibly hundreds of millions of dollars to be laundered, allowed warlords to gamble at its casinos and more. Now, as the company continues to face regulatory and governmental scrutiny on several sides, revelations about how the company has been led are seemingly pointing out why there have been so many problems. The company’s own leadership is reportedly not on the same page.
Crown Airs Its Dirty Laundry
Crown has already been deemed unworthy of a casino license in New South Wales (NSW). Other Australian states are currently investigating the company and could reach the same conclusion in the near future. Through all of it, Crown Resorts Executive Chair Helen Coonan has spent a lot of time being grilled by gaming regulators and lawmakers across the country. She has revealed to a Royal Commission in Victoria that Crown’s board was “deeply divided” over how to react ahead of the NSW investigation last year. Some board members reportedly didn’t want to take any action, perhaps expecting that the issue would blow over without repercussions.
Not until Coonan came in as the executive chair, following the departure of John Alexander in February of last year, did any movement begin to right the wrongs for which Crown had already been busted. Prior to her arrival, according to Coonan, the company’s management thought the best approach was to launch a smear campaign that targeted “poor or misleading journalism.” However, as has already been proven, as well as acknowledged by the company, that journalism was on target, and Crown was only trying to sidestep its responsibility for not following the rules.
Coonan Admits Infrastructure Failures
Coonan was asked by Adrian Finanzio, counsel assisting the state with its inquiry into Crown, about the company’s “defensive and combative” strategy that was developed to respond to the negative publicity. The executive admitted that there were issues and stated, “I think it is very important that you get the right strategy and the strategy around the Bergin Inquiry and how that developed was very much challenged by me and others on the board. We became increasingly concerned about the strategy that was being adopted.” She added, “Some of the Board started to get very concerned about the strategy and how that all unfolded, and it really escalated when we started thinking about the response to the Bergin [inquiry].”
Coonan, in referencing “some of the board,” was likely referring to herself, Jane Halton and Toni Korsanos, Crown directors who have emerged virtually unscathed from the NSW inquiry. A fourth individual, John Horvath, also supported a different approach; however, he resigned late last year. Five other board members, as well as now-former CEO Ken Barton and General Counsel Mary Manos, have stepped. Those individuals are said to have supported Crown’s attempted smear campaigns as the company tried to hide the truth.