An Australian gaming regulator grilled over Macau trip


An Australian gaming regulator grilled over Macau trip - 7th July 2014

Profiles

Gaming Crown Resorts Macau Resorts Business Entertainment

Opposition politicians in Western Australia are demanding more details about a trip to Macau made by a senior official of the state’s gaming regulator. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the trip was paid for by Crown Perth (pictured), a property of Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd.

The national broadcaster’s ABC News service said that Barry Sergeant, director general of WA’s Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor, travelled to Macau at Crown’s expense last year.

Mr Sargeant reportedly spent three days in Macau gathering information about Crown’s competition in Asia.

James Packer chairs Crown Resorts. His firm is also an investor in Macau casinos via the Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd joint venture, of which Mr Packer is co-chairman.

Australia’s Labor Party said it appeared that as far as the regulator’s trip was concerned, the department’s guidelines regarding accepting gifts and hospitality had been breached, the ABC reported.

GGRAsia approached the office of Western Australia’s Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron and also Crown Resorts for comment on the issue, but no one was immediately available.

The Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor’s code of conduct states: “Giving or receiving gifts or hospitality could result in decision-making being, or appearing to be, improperly influenced. You must not accept any gift, gratuity or hospitality offered in connection with your duties (except as permitted by our policies), or ask for any remuneration or benefit for doing your duties.”

The opposition’s acting spokesman on accountability, Ken Travers, was quoted by the ABC as saying: “The Minister needs to explain why he approved this trip and how he is now going to ensure conflicts of interest, or potential conflicts of interest, are managed in that portfolio.”

The ABC quoted a statement from Mr Waldron in which he was reported saying it was “entirely appropriate” for Mr Sargeant to be better informed about challenges in the market and that “the director-general manages conflicts, perceived or otherwise, in accordance with government guidelines”.

“In the face of significantly increased regional competition from various Asian markets, the purpose of Mr Sargeant’s trip was for him to gain a greater understanding of the international VIP business in Macau and implications for local operations,” the minister was quoted as saying.

(GGR Asia)