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Special Manager for the Melbourne Casino Operator Black Banner

About the Special Manager

An overview of the Office of the Special Manager.

The role of the Special Manager

Following recommendations from the Finkelstein Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence(opens in a new window), Stephen O’Bryan KC was appointed as the Special Manager for the Melbourne Casino Operator, pursuant to section 36B of the Casino Control Act 1991 (Vic) on 1 January 2022.

The Special Manager has all the powers, rights, and privileges of a director of Crown, other than the right to vote. 

The Special Manager has extensive legislative powers to: 

  • monitor Crown’s operations, including to enter and remain on the premises, to attend any meetings, and to gather information and records 
  • oversee and give directions to Crown to take, or refrain from taking, any specified action, for example, to ensure compliance with its regulatory and legal obligations. 

The Special Manager was required to provide regular reports on a 6-monthly basis on Crown’s reform work to the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC)(opens in a new window) and the Minister for Casino, Gaming and Liquor Regulation on matters relevant to whether Crown should keep its licence. 

In January 2024, the Special Manager submitted a confidential final report to the VGCCC and the Minister. The final report sets out the Special Manager’s assessment of Crown’s reforms and efforts to return to suitability. 

Following consideration of the Special Manager’s final report, interim reports and other relevant evidence, on 26 March 2024, the VGCCC announced its decision on Crown’s return to suitability to hold the Melbourne casino licence. The decision is available on the VGCCC website(opens in a new window).

Special Manager's final report

The VGCCC publicly released a redacted version of the Special Manager’s final report and Appendices A-G on 26 April 2024: 

Special Manager's Final Report December 2023
PDF 13.98 MB
(opens in a new window)
Appendices A-G: Special Manager's Final Report December 2023
PDF 9.28 MB
(opens in a new window)

The Special Manager has also released 4 activity reports(opens in a new window) on his independent oversight of the Melbourne casino operator

The Special Manager’s statutory term concludes on 30 June 2024.

Focus and powers of the Special Manager

The blueprint for the Special Manager’s work is set out in Appendix I of the Finkelstein Royal Commission report(opens in a new window). The key areas in which Crown needs to demonstrate major reform are in relation to cultural change, governance, risk management and compliance, responsible service of gambling, and preventing financial crime. The Special Manager’s work includes independently monitoring and assessing a range of projects and activities Crown is undertaking to effect change in these areas.

The role of the Special Manager is fairly unique in Australian corporate history. The Special Manager has significant powers under the Casino Control Act, including all the powers, rights and privileges of a Crown Melbourne director (except the right to vote). The Special Manager also has statutory powers to direct the casino operator to take action or to refrain from taking action.

It is fairly unique for a monitor overseeing a solvent company to have such extensive supervisory powers. The powers of other significant monitorships over solvent companies (such as those overseeing WorldCom in 2002 and Volkswagen in 2018) have included the power to access information and to make recommendations regarding corporate governance, but not to direct a company to take, or to veto, action.

These significant supervisory powers, similar to those of a corporate administrator, have been enacted by the Parliament of Victoria in view of the Finkelstein Royal Commission’s damning findings, and the importance of the VGCCC being fully and independently informed about Crown’s suitability to retain its casino licence.

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