October 18, 2017 / 3:44 AM / 5 months ago

Australia's Crown hit by accusations of poker machine-fixing, shares tumble

SYDNEY, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Australia’s Crown Resorts Ltd was hit by allegations of tampering with poker machines on Wednesday when a lawmaker tabled a video of whistleblowers in parliament, sending shares in the casino firm sliding.

Independent lawmaker and anti-gambling campaigner Andrew Wilkie used parliamentary privilege, which allows lawmakers to make sensitive allegations without legal repercussions, to make the video public and call for an investigation by authorities.

On the recording, unidentified people accuse Crown’s flagship casino in Melbourne of fixing poker machines to remove built-in controls designed to regulate gambling rates.

They also allege that customers were encouraged to disguise their identity to avoid detection by anti-money-laundering agency AUSTRAC, and that the casino failed to stop drug use and domestic violence on its premises.

Wilkie told a news conference he had verified the identity of the people on the video as former employees of Crown but declined to comment further on the accuracy of the allegations.

Crown said in a statement that it rejected the allegations and that Wilkie should “immediately provide to the relevant authorities all information relating to the matters alleged”.

Crown shares fell 7 percent by midsession, their biggest single-day loss in a year. (Reporting by Byron Kaye and Colin Packham Editing by Jane Wardell and Edwina Gibbs)

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