Home > People > People moves > Walsh to exit as Crown Melbourne CEO as Victoria inquiry nears end

Walsh to exit as Crown Melbourne CEO as Victoria inquiry nears end

| By Robert Fletcher
Australian operator Crown Resorts has announced that Xavier Walsh is to step down as the chief executive of its Crown Melbourne facility later this month.

Walsh will exit the role on 20 August but remain with the business until 9 December, in line with the terms of his contract with the group.

Walsh joined Crown in 2008 as the chief operating officer of Cannery Casino Resorts, which operated in Nevada and Pennsylvania in the US before returning to Australia in 2013 to take on the same role with Crown Melbourne. 

He moved into the position of chief executive in December last year.

Crown said that it intends to announce an interim appointment to replace Walsh following consultation with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.

Last month, an inquiry into Crown heard that Xavier Walsh and group executive chairman Helen Coonan “cannot be the credible face of change at Crown if it is to remain the licensee”, as they had held senior positions during the period when failings occurred.

Adrian Finanzio, the counsel assisting the commission into the operator and licence, presented his arguments against Crown’s suitability as a licensee. He said that the Bergin Inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a licence in New South Wales revealed major flaws, and that – based on the evidence submitted to the Commission in Victoria – the operator remains an unsuitable licensee.

The announcement comes after Crown last week reopened its Crown Melbourne site after the Victorian government lifted novel coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown restrictions in the state.

Crown Melbourne was forced to halt all gaming activities on 16 July when the state’s government announced a short lockdown in response to an increase in Covid-19 cases in Victoria.

Also last week, Crown Resorts paid AUD$61.0m (£32.5m/€38.0m/US$45.1m) to Victoria in response to an investigation into an underpayment of casino tax dating back to 2012.

The Victorian Royal Commission, which is conducting the investigation into Crown and its activities in the state, ruled Crown should make two payments to cover the underpayment of tax and related interest charges.

The Commission said a payment of $37m should be made to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, representing an underpayment of casino tax by Crown Melbourne in the period from the 2012 financial year to the present day.

This tax was in relation to Crown’s incorrect deduction of certain bonus rewards provided to players in connection with play on Crown Melbourne’s electronic gaming machines.

The Commission also said a further payment of $24m must be made to the state of Victoria as penalty interest on the underpayment of casino tax during the period in question.

Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter