The Ville Resort Casino in Australia Faces Fine for Working With Junket

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The Ville Resort Casino in Australia Faces Fine for Working With Junket

Accusations that casinos in Australia have been working with illegal junkets are coming to a head. The Ville Resort Casino in Townsville, Queensland, is going to have to answer to the state’s gaming regulator for alleged violation of its junket policies.

The Ville Resort Casino
The Ville Resort Casino
The Ville Resort Casino sits behind the property’s palm trees. The casino faces allegations it worked with an unlicensed junket in Queensland. (Image: Trip.com)

Over the past few months, despite strong assertions to the contrary, several smaller casino operators in Australia were believed to be dealing with junkets. Now, the Office of Liquor and Gaming (OLQ) is formally charging The Ville, according to ABC News.

Collaborating with junkets is not illegal; however, the relationships need approval first. The Ville apparently bypassed the requirement, and its mistake is one of several new issues Australia’s casino industry is bringing upon itself.

No Way Out

Australia’s gaming industry is under scrutiny from all levels – government, regulators and even the media. This means that any infraction, regardless of its size, will likely be discovered.

The problems with The Ville began several months ago when a media outlet reported that the casino had improperly worked with an unapproved junket. In exchange for money and benefits, it brought clients with deep pockets to the casino.

The Ville countered that it was just a misunderstanding and that it hadn’t broken any laws. The OLQ doesn’t see it that way. It is now charging the property with two counts of violating Queensland’s Casino Control Act.

Because the year is about to wrap up, The Ville and its owner, billionaire Chris Morris, will have to wait until 2023 to find out what happens next. The case will be on a court docket sometime in January.

The case surfaces shortly after another casino operator found itself in hot water with authorities. The Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns received a fine of AUD10,000 (US$6,778) because it worked with an unauthorized junket operator.

In that case, the casino gave a tour operator 5% of all the turnover it received from the gamblers he brought through the doors. The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation could levy additional fines or sanctions as it conducts its investigation.

Junkets Lose Favor

Junkets were once a huge part of the gaming industry, especially in and around Asia. Macau was notorious for being driven by junkets until they began to develop a bad reputation.

Rumors of money laundering, ties to organized crime and other scandals have turned the junket industry inside out. Most notably, the case involving Suncity Group and Alvin Chau has taken its toll. He allegedly laundered hundreds of millions of dollars through casinos in Macau, Australia and elsewhere.

Most of the casino operators in Asia had, at one point or another, relied on junkets, especially as they started ramping up their operations in the region. However, they have been pulling back over the past few years and now only a small handful of the partnerships exist.

Macau is rewriting its junket rules, and Australia will likely do the same. Only Queensland has regulations that require pre-approval of relationships.

Other casino states give their casinos the responsibility of ensuring junkets operate within the limits of the law. However, that policy hasn’t worked out as well as expected.

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