I lead for the Opposition in debate on the Casino Legislation Amendment Bill 2022. The bill seeks to amend the Casino Control Act 1992 No. 15 and the Casino Control Regulation 2019 along with the Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007 No. 91. The bill is in response to the recommendations of the Bergin report. From the outset I make it clear that the Labor Opposition believes that we must have the necessary regulatory framework in place to handle the complexities of this industry. As the Minister just described, it is up to the industry; however, members of Parliament are here to ensure that we put in place the regulation. It is absolutely critical that the public has confidence in the integrity of the casino and gaming industry. For that reason, Labor will not oppose the bill.
It is inescapable that public confidence in the casino and gaming sector has been shaken by media reports of misconduct within the industry over the past few years. Those media reports made allegations of money laundering, working with junket tour operators with links to organised crimes, and the failure of casinos to comply with regulatory standards. The allegations put forth in those media reports have shined a spotlight on an industry that has seen public government inquiries launched right across this country. In New South Wales the Bergin inquiry was launched into Crown casinos' operations with its final report handed down on 1 February 2021. The Bergin inquiry was tasked with not just investigating misconduct at Crown Casino but also making recommendations to enhance the casino regulatory framework. That included examining the regulator's capability to respond to emerging risks in the gaming casino sector. The Bell inquiry's report into the conduct of The Star casino is due to be handed down on 31 August 2022. The Bell inquiry is examining the suitability of The Star as a casino operator and whether it has complied with its regulatory obligations. The terms of reference included examining whether The Star casino remained free from criminal influence and exploitation, along with ensuring that gaming had been conducted honestly.
During the Bell inquiry we heard from numerous now former Star executives about failures within the organisation to manage risks within the casino's operations. The inquiry has heard how, like Crown, The Star had enabled suspected money laundering. While casinos both drive tourism and create jobs in this State, holding a casino licence is a privilege that comes with significant regulatory responsibilities. That is critical. Let us be clear: When we refer to money laundering, we are talking about the washing of money that is the proceeds of crime; we are talking about drug money; and we are talking about human trafficking. The people involved in the worst aspects of criminal behaviour are washing money illegally through our casinos.
The Bergin report and subsequent royal commissions in Victoria and Western Australia exposed significant issues within the casino sector. Commissioner Bergin was critical of the leadership of Crown, which has since seen a substantial turnover in executive leadership and is also now owned by Blackstone. The Bergin inquiry uncovered evidence of money laundering at Crown Melbourne, with bundles of cash being exchanged for gambling chips in one of the VIP gaming rooms. Crown was also operating two bank accounts with patrons depositing funds for gambling. The inquiry also heard that Crown failed to act when presented with evidence that it was being used for money laundering. The inquiry also examined Crown's relationship to junket operators with links to organised crime, including fears that Crown Resort Macau employees feared physical violence from associates of one junket operator.
The inquiry was most damning of Crown's culture. Commissioner Bergin stated it had an "unjustified belief in itself". Even when presented with evidence of wrongdoing, it was "unwilling to entertain the prospect". The Bergin inquiry found Crown unfit to hold a casino licence and required that organisation to be significantly restructured before it was granted a conditional licence. As members have heard, the Bergin report made 19 recommendations to address the risks of money laundering in casinos and increase the compliance of casino operators with regulatory responsibility. Recommendations also covered improving probity processes for individuals and companies associated with casinos. The first tranche of those recommendations was addressed in previous legislation, with this bill to implement the final tranche.
I now move to the contents of the bill. The bill sets out significant reforms to the regulation of casino operators in this State. The proposed reforms fall within three primary objectives. Firstly, there are amendments to establish the NSW Independent Casino Commission [NICC]. Secondly, it makes reforms to money laundering along with reforms to strengthen responsible gaming measures. Lastly, there are reforms to strengthen the regulator's ability to address casino operators' noncompliance with their regulatory responsibilities.
New part 9A establishes the NICC, to be headed up by one full-time Chief Commissioner with a minimum of two other commissioners. The Minister will also have the authority to appoint assistant commissioners. Under part 9A, the NICC will be empowered to hold joint inquiries with the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority [ILGA] along with employing staff to assist with the exercise of its functions. New section 115AB will establish the Casino Supervisory Fund, which will be under the control of the NICC and used to fund its operations. All money collected under section 115A via the casino supervisory levy will be paid into the fund.
New part 4A establishes the Casino, Liquor and Gaming Coordination Committee to provide strategic advice to the NICC and facilitate the sharing of information between regulators, law enforcement agencies and the department. The committee will be made up of the chief executive officer of Hospitality and Racing, the Chief Commissioner of the NSW Independent Casino Commission under the Casino Control Act 1992, the chairperson of the authority, the NSW Police Commissioner or a person nominated by the Police Commissioner, the NSW Crime Commissioner or a person nominated by the Crime Commissioner, and persons nominated by law enforcement agencies. New section 156 will provide that no compensation is payable by the Crown for regulatory action taken against a casino operator, a relevant person, or another matter connected to the management or operation of a casino.
I move on to reforms to address money laundering and harm minimisation. These amendments seek to enhance regulatory capability in responding to money laundering risks, along with both fostering a culture of regulatory compliance in casinos and enabling greater cooperation between regulator and law enforcement. To do that, the bill inserts anti-money laundering [AML] as a primary object of the Casino Control Act 1992 by amending sections 4A and 140. It will insert new section 76B into the Casino Control Act 1992 to ban junkets, along with any payment or commission to a person in reference to another person's gambling turnover or any other gambling matrix. The bill will insert new section 138A into the Casino Control Act 1992 to require a casino operator to provide the NICC with a copy of every suspicious matter it submits to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre. It also inserts new section 131A into the Casino Control Act 1992 to require a casino operator to engage an independent and appropriately qualified compliance auditor. The auditor will report annually to the NICC on the operation's compliance with regulatory obligations.
New section 126 will require a casino operator to maintain a single bank account, approved by the NICC, at an authorised deposit-taking institution in New South Wales for all banking transactions by patrons. The bill inserts new section 71A, which will mandate the use of player cards for all gambling activities in a casino. This card will collect data that relates to player buy-in and buy-out, time and amount, play periods, player turnover, losses and wins. New section 73A will regulate that a casino operator must not accept more than $1,000 in cash from a customer in a day for wagering purposes. The bill amends section 65 of the Casino Control Act 1992 to require casino operators to retain CCTV footage for at least three months. It also amends section 124 of the Act to require a casino's internal controls to address money laundering risks by including patron account monitoring, patron due diligence and source of funds declarations for amounts over a specified amount. Internal controls must also include matters relating to responsible gambling.
Division 3 of the Casino Control Act 1992 will now require casino management to complete training and obtain a certificate of competency. This training will cover AML and responsible conduct of gambling. Division 3 will also require that close associates maintain ongoing suitability and allow the NICC to take disciplinary action against them. This division will also provide the NICC with cost recovery powers. Under new section 84A of the Casino Control Act 1992, casino operators will now be required to take reasonable steps to prevent an excluded person from entering a casino. The bill will insert new section 71 into the Act to prohibit gaming machines and gambling-related signs from being visible from outside a gaming area.
The final amendments that I will address go to strengthening the regulator's ability to address casino operators' noncompliance with their regulatory responsibilities. The bill will amend section 37 by inserting section 37A to empower the NICC to oversee the probity of a casino operator and entities that it has entered a contract with. It will amend section 167 of the Casino Control Act 1992 to empower the NICC to take disciplinary action against an executive of a casino operator for offences by that casino operator. It will amend section 143 of the Casino Control Act 1992 so that the NICC can hold public inquiries with full royal commission powers and insert cost recovery provisions into casino licenses. Section 64 of the Casino Control Act 1992 will require all employees, including close associates, to complete AML training.
The bill will increase the penalties that casino operators and executives face for misconduct, including the fine for disciplinary action regarding a casino licence, which will increase from $1 million to $100 million. The bill puts measures in place to respond to any future recommendations made by the Bell inquiry. It is worth noting that many of the reforms in the bill mirror legislation enacted in Victoria in the wake of the royal commission. Labor welcomes consistency across jurisdictions and believes that it is a prudent way forward. It is crucial that we take on organised crime that is using the gaming and casino sector to engage in illegal activities. The Opposition supports measures to stamp out those operations.
One concern that has been raised with me is the potential for this activity to shift elsewhere, especially money laundering. I ask the Minister to address that concern. I thank ILGA for the work it has done in helping to prepare the bill and in working to reform our gaming sector. In particular, I thank ILGA Chairperson Philip Crawford for keeping me and the Opposition up to date on the work that is being done to reform the sector. The Bergin report exposed gaps in the regulatory framework, and ILGA has set about addressing those gaps to help restore community confidence in our casino and gaming sector. I also thank the Minister and his office staff for cooperation and for engaging with me and the Opposition. It has been a long process, but the bill is important and we must support it. There is nothing more important than integrity in casinos and gaming in New South Wales. I commend the bill to the House.