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SYDNEY, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Casino giant Crown Resorts is facing questions from a second Australian gambling regulator after a state watchdog said earlier this week it was unfit for a licence at a new casino in Sydney, throwing its future further into doubt.
Crown’s regulator at its main casino in Melbourne said it would formally ask company CEO Ken Barton and another director to explain why they should be deemed “suitable to be an associate” of the facility in light of misconduct allegations.
“Associates of the casino operator must be of good repute, having regard to character, honesty and integrity”, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) said in a statement.
“Demanding an explanation is the mandatory first step of our regulatory action.”
The New South Wales state gambling watchdog said on Tuesday the A$6.6 billion ($5.1 billion) company was unfit for a licence at a new casino in Sydney, citing money laundering and the “dysfunctional” influence of 36% shareholder James Packer.
Although the regulator which aired the money laundering allegations at an inquiry would oversee Crown’s activities in Sydney, much of the alleged wrongdoing took place at the Melbourne casino.
The Victorian watchdog now had several active investigations into Crown, VCGLR CEO Catherine Myers added in the statement.
Crown Chair Helen Coonan said earlier that the company planned to cooperate with regulators and had already taken steps to improve its “governance, compliance and culture.”
Already two Crown directors representing billionaire Packer’s personal company resigned, a move that Packer’s company said would clear the air in light of complaints about his influence.
In an Australian Broadcasting Corp interview, NSW gambling regulator Philip Crawford answered “yes” when asked if Barton and another Crown director, Andrew Demetriou, should leave after being criticised in the hearing.
Crown has not commented on the future of either director. (Reporting by Byron Kaye in Sydney and Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Jane Wardell and Richard Pullin)