Breaking Down the Action:
  • End of Investigation Leaves More Questions
  • What the Investigation Decided
  • How Will This Affect the Aussie Millions?

4 Minute Read

Australian poker legends such as Kahle Burns (pictured above) deserve to play the Aussie Millions at the Crown in Melbourne... but will they get the chance?

One of the most iconic poker festivals of the year may never happen again. After a recent judgement was brought down on the Crown Casino in Melbourne, the very future of one of the biggest poker festivals on the planet has been cast into major doubt.

Could it really be the end of the Aussie Millions? Let’s look into the heart of the matter.

End of Investigation Leaves More Questions

The Crown Resorts’ crown jewel is Crown Casino in Melbourne, the home of the Aussie Millions, which over the years has made superstars of its Main Event winners. From Toby Lewis to Bryn Kenney, those who have won the ‘big one’ Down Under have often gone on to see their stock rise considerably in the game.

Back in July 2021, we questioned whether the investigation into the Crown would jeopardise the future of the Aussie Millions and it seems after multiple problems that have been highlighted that it could. It is ironic, since poker is arguably at its strongest point in Oz. Only recently, the WPT DeepStacks event in Sydney was won by Mark Fester and set new records for attendances in the Australasia continent and points to an active growth in the poker market in that region of the world.

The two-year investigation castigated Crown Melbourne for many issues that arose during the period under scrutiny. Eventually, regulators declared the gambling brand unfit to operate under a standard casino license. While Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth continue to operate as businesses after showing an ability to make the changes necessary, replacing directors and executive directors in control of the business assets, more changes are clearly needed.

What the Investigation Decided

The royal commission’s investigation in Crown Melbourne has landed the property with a number of gambling laws that prevent the casino running at the same kind of level of profit as it did before.

With poker rooms more dependent on slots and other table games at gambling venues than ever before, the specific restrictions on just how much cash Crown Melbourne can use will have a dramatic impact on the business model of the venue, and poker is always one of the first considerations for change by casino owners, with a lower house ‘edge’ in monetary terms than virtually any other game. Put simply, the game of poker is often a ‘loss leader’ to get players into the casino so that they can spend time playing other more financially lucrative games.

Crown Melbourne is home to over 2,500 gambling machines and with Crown Sydney due to open in just under a week in Barangaroo, the property, which cost $2.2 billion in Australian dollars to build simply cannot go under. All in, there are an incredible 33 recommendations on Crown Melbourne changes that have been reported to the Australian government and some will likely take some time to implement.

Crown Melbourne customers will need to set themselves a loss limit before they’re allowed to sit down at the games on offer and when they, the time they spend gambling will be monitored in real-time by the casino’s machines, taking something off the gloss of a night gambling your hard-earned money with friends.

How Will This Affect the Aussie Millions?

“Just two years, 820 entries saw the Crown Melbourne welcome the last Main Event [to date].”

In 2021, poker did not visit the Crown, but could the Aussie Million return? The restriction of cash usage to just $1,000 casts serious doubt on that proposition. The American investment consortium Blackstone Group – who also own The Cosmopolitan which is a stone’s throw from the Welcome to Las Vegas sign in Sin City – bought the Crown for $8.9 billion in Australian dollars (around $6.2 billion) in June.

They surely wouldn’t have done so without knowing that their investment isn’t about to plummet in value like a squandered gameshow jackpot. With rules meaning that only a comparative few gaming machines are legally allowed to be added to the casino floor, it looks likely that roulette or blackjack might be the games that allow the Crown to regain its mantle as the best venue Down Under.

Just two years, 820 entries saw the Crown Melbourne welcome the last Main Event before COVID-19 closed down the live poker world for a period. Whether the Crown Melbourne will be in a position to demonstrate that it has recovered to the extent the world has in that time is highly debatable.

Arthur Crowson

Arthur Crowson writes for about the gambling industry. His experience ranges from crypto and technology to sports, casinos, and poker. He went to Douglas College and started his journalism career at the Merritt Herald as a general beat reporter covering news, sports and community. Arthur lives in Hawaii and is passionate about writing, editing, and photography.

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