Australia's Crown casino denies slot-machine 'tampering'

Crown casino in Melbourne Image copyright AFP
Image caption The allegations was made by casino staff members

Australia's largest casino has denied allegations it deliberately tampered with slot machines and ignored evidence of drug use and domestic violence.

The claims, by three people who said they were ex-employees of Crown casino, were tabled in Australia's parliament.

Authorities will investigate the allegations, described by one MP as "chilling".

Crown Resorts Limited said it rejected claims of "illegal and improper conduct" at the Melbourne venue.

The whistleblowers allege that staff were told to alter poker machines, known in Australia as "pokies", to remove some betting options.

The casino also overlooked drug use and domestic violence incidents, and tried to avoid reporting some transactions to authorities, the former employees say.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said an anti-money laundering regulator, Austrac, would investigate a claim that staff were told to use different player ID cards when processing transactions over A$10,000 (£6,000; $8,000).

The other claims will be "thoroughly investigated" by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, it confirmed.

Australia has the world's highest gambling loss per head, according to recent research by UK consultancy H2 Gambling Capital, with Australians losing an average of A$1,260 last year.

Allegations detailed in video

The claims were outlined in a 30-minute video tabled to parliament on Wednesday by an independent MP, Andrew Wilkie.

The faces and voices of the three former employees were masked in the footage to protect their identity.

"If the allegations are true, it does suggest there is a systemic problem rather than a rogue individual," said Mr Wilkie, an anti-gambling campaigner.

In denying the allegations, Crown called on Mr Wilkie to "immediately provide to the relevant authorities all information relating to the matters alleged".

Crown is one of Australia's largest gambling and entertainment companies and is publicly listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

The company is currently embroiled in a landmark court battle involving a former gambling addict who alleges the casino and a manufacturer of a slot-machine game misled gamblers over their chances of winning.

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