Blackstone-owned Crown faces probe by Victoria’s casino regulator

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(Reuters) -Blackstone-owned Crown Resorts is facing a investigation by an Australian state regulator after the casino operator said it was probing into CEO Ciaran Carruthers, who allegedly overruled the casino’s security officers over banning intoxicated customers.

“In relation to the CEO’s conduct, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) will review the outcome of Crown’s investigation into its CEO before determining what, if any, regulatory action may be taken,” the sector regulator for the state of Victoria said in a statement on Wednesday.

Local media reports emerged around the investigations, speculating that a minor was also allowed on the game floor.

“The VGCCC had already been aware of a minor being allowed onto the gaming floor and we are actively investigating,” VGCCC added.

The Australian Financial Review was the first to report the probe.

“In accordance with Crown’s governance protocols, we have engaged external counsel to conduct an independent review of these matters,” a Crown spokesperson said, adding the company would not comment further until the review was complete.

Carruthers was hired last year after private equity giant Blackstone (NYSE:BX)’s $6.3-billion takeover of the firm, which was once owned by the billionaire Packer family.

Blackstone did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The VGCCC had in May set out strict conditions for Crown’s Melbourne casino to operate after granting it a special licence.

The company has faced years of regulatory challenges, including a royal commission in Victoria around money-laundering charges.

Crown has stopped doing business with foreign travel agents, or “junkets”, who brought in Chinese gamblers, and since 2021 replaced most of its leadership in a bid to show the authorities it had rebuilt its governance systems.

Earlier this year, an Australian court signed off on an A$450 million fine for Crown for breaking anti-money laundering laws.

($1 = 1.5279 Australian dollars)