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Gaming giant Crown accused of rigging machines and money-laundering

SYDNEY: Australian gambling powerhouse Crown is facing a raft of explosive allegations, including slot machine tampering and avoiding money-laundering scrutiny, after whistle-blower accounts were tabled in Parliament yesterday.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie submitted video evidence in Canberra from three former employees accusing Crown of rigging machines at its flagship Melbourne casino to work in its favour, including modifying buttons to allow illegal auto-play.

The anonymous whistle-blowers also claimed that staff were encouraged to use different identity cards for transactions of more than A$10,000 (S$10,600) to avoid the scrutiny of Australia's money-laundering watchdog.

Crown Resorts, controlled by billionaire James Packer, denied any wrongdoing.

The whistle-blower assertions extended to the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation, the state gaming regulator, which the former employees alleged knowingly turned a blind eye to machine tampering.

The regulator, which is conducting its periodic five-year review of the casino's licence, said it is looking into the allegations.

Mr Wilkie called on the government to open a parliamentary inquiry into the issue.

Gambling addiction is a major problem in Australia. Advocates for reform estimate that people lose around A$12 billion a year. - AFP

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