Danny Lakasas details how he was blocked from investigating crime at Melbourne’s Crown Casino


In a Four Corners and ABC Investigations exclusive on Monday night, five casino inspectors spoke out about how they were blocked from investigating serious crime in Melbourne’s Crown Casino.

One of these inspectors was former Victoria Police officer, Danny Lakasas, who worked for the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) and was supposed to have oversight of the casino by keeping out criminal influence and infiltration.

But Lakasas, along with the four other inspectors who include Former VCGLR Senior Inspector Peter McCormick, told the program that over the years they lost access to parts of the casino, were shadowed by Crown staff in high-roller rooms, and felt their presence was unwelcome.

They also told Four Corners their roles at the casino were constantly undermined as the watchdog they worked for gave Crown what it wanted again and again.

In fact, Lakasas detailed how he once ran a 12-month operation to track the use of counterfeit notes at the casino — methodically tracking dates, times and gaming table numbers, as well as who the dealers and patrons were.

Former Victoria Police officer, Danny Lakasas. Photo: Four Corners.

He told the program that when he compiled what he’d found and passed it up the chain, nothing happened.

“Somebody from intel came down then, took all the information, said, ‘Thanks very much.’ That was the last I heard of it,” Lakasas said in the episode.

“You get disheartened after a while, and you start thinking, well, why am I busting my backside in doing all this work when it’s not going to go anywhere and nothing’s going to happen?”

The casino inspector went on to say that during a period of upheaval at the regulator, James Packer ramped up Crown’s aggressive expansion into the Chinese high-roller market. VIP gamblers were also brought into Melbourne by third party agents known as junket operators.

Danny Lakasas has spoken out about he was blocked from investigating crime at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. Photo: Four Corners.

To Lakasas, the casino suddenly became more vulnerable to organised crime.

“What changed then with the junkets coming in was the amount of Chinese people coming in, having their own rooms, and gambling basically millions of dollars,” Lakasas told Four Corners.

“What we saw was a lot of money change hands… I don’t know where this money came from, or how it was accounted for, or whether the state was receiving their cut of taxes at that time, because it was all mainly cash.”

Both Crown and the regulator declined to be interviewed by Four Corners. A VCGLR spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to comment while the royal commission into Crown Melbourne was underway.

But all five inspectors have risked speaking out so that they might see a regulator restored with sufficient power, expertise and independence.

“So many ex-inspectors speaking up just shows that they’re concerned and that the system’s broken, and hopefully our voices are taken on board and something’s done about it,” Lakasas says.

Source: ABC.




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