INDIA

Problem punters slip through Crown net

The royal commission into the toubled company continues. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

An overwhelming number of problem gamblers who frequented Crown Casino and voluntarily banned themselves from the establishment were never identified as harmful punters.

The royal commission into the Perth branch of the troubled gaming group exposed holes in the company’s detection of problem gamblers.

When customers are identified inside Crown as exhibiting signs of problem gambling, one of the options provided to the individual is to voluntarily self-exclude themselves – essentially forfeiting their right to gamble at the casino for 12 months.

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Responsible gaming advisors inside the casino are tasked with monitoring for signs of harmful gambling.

But of the 182 people who took this drastic option in 2020, a staggering 150 had never been detected by staff before as having “exhibited observable features”.

“That is over 80 per cent of the persons who sought self-exclusion had not be detected,” counsel assisting the Perth Casino Royal Commission, David Leigh, said on Friday.

Problem punters are going undetected at the casino group. Picture: Tony McDonough
Problem punters are going undetected at the casino group. Picture: Tony McDonough

During the grilling into Crown’s standards and responsibilities to monitor for problem gambling, the company’s general manager for responsible gambling, Melanie Strelein Faulks, rejected suggestions those who sought self-exclusion were all problem gamblers.

But she did admit a large number of harmful punters were falling through the company’s net for a combination of reasons, including insufficient training.

Ms Strelein Faulks accepted other reasons for harmful punters being missed, included staff being distracted with other tasks, not realising the cumulative impact of the signs they were witnessing, or the punter successfully hiding signs of problematic activity.

Perth Crown attracts up to 20,000 guests a day.

The responsible gaming manager, on grilling from Counsel Leigh, agreed there was no way trained advisors could observe the behaviour of each and every one.

Ms Strelein Faulks agreed floor staff at the casino were the “eyes and ears” for responsible gaming advisors (RGA) and the detection of those suffering from harmful gambling depended on the effectiveness of ordinary staff.

Despite this, workers outside the RGA team receive no formal training and are not assessed on their ability to monitor problem gambling.

Under examination, the responsible gaming manager revealed there were no inspections or reviews to test if staff had retained casual on-the-job training to know the basic signs.

Mr Leigh asked: “Has Crown ever, at any stage, had any other form of assessment to try to determine whether the RGA system is working properly?”

Ms Strelein Faulks replied: “Not formally, no.”

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