Crown Perth did not cease the operation of its high-roller room during the lockdown period. This discovery is contradictory to the information provided by Crown to the ASX. What is more, the operation of Crown Perth’s Pearl Room during the lockdowns is in breach of the government rules in WA.
The casino’s misconduct was revealed on Tuesday, during an investigation of the Perth Casino Royal Commission. The evidence for the high-roller room operating during the lockdowns was given by Melissa Smith, director of casino operations for gaming machines at Crown Perth. The exclusive invite-only room was operating during the lockdown period that lasted between 29 June and 3 July.
Crown Perth Claims to Have Ceased All Gaming Operations During Lockdowns
After being asked by Commissioner Lindy Jenkins whether the Pearl Room was in operation during the lockdown period, Ms Smith confirmed that the main casino area of Crown Perth was closed but the high-roller room remained open. Ms Smith was not able to verify any permission being granted to Crown Perth to keep its Pearl Room open during the lockdown.
According to a statement issued by WA Premier Mark McGowan and Health Minister Roger Cook, all casinos had to cease their operations while WA was under lockdown. The only facilities that could be exempt from these restrictions were the ones that have received permission to operate by the WA Police.
Contradictory Statements About Crown Perth’s Pearl Room Operation
Following the announcement of the lockdown restrictions, on 28 June, Crown Perth ensured that it will close all of its gaming floors during the lockdown period in WA. According to the official statement published by the company, on 27 June, 2021, Crown Perth ceased any type of gaming activity. With the exception of food and beverage facilities on the casino floor, all restaurants, bars, banqueting and conference halls remained open, operating in accordance with the rules of the WA government.
While many royal commission witnesses were also asked about the Pearl Room operation, it was only Ms Smith who confirmed that the high-roller room was operating during the lockdown period. In a separate hearing, Ms Smith’s husband, Richard Smith, could not confirm that the Pearl Room was operating during the lockdown in WA, saying he could not clearly recall such activities.
The exclusive Pearl Room is reserved only for high-rollers, with gamblers having to spend at least $100,000 per year to be eligible to join the Pearl Room. The exclusive room allows players to wager bigger amounts, enjoy individual hosts to serve them food and drinks, and even keep them entertained by offering tickets to shows and major sporting events.
While the Pearl Room was mainly reserved for foreign players, after the Australian borders were closed and junkets were banned, the targeted customer group has changed. Now, the exclusive gaming room caters mostly to local high-rollers.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.