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Victoria expands royal commission into Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) as new evidence raises fresh concerns
Crown’s hotel and casino complex in Melbourne. Source: Jason Reed/Reuters.
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  • The Victorian Government will allocate additional time and funding to the royal commission into Crown Resorts' (CWN) Melbourne operations
  • Funding will be almost doubled and the August 1, deadline has been extended to October 15
  • The extension comes as a result of "the seriousness of evidence produced" so far and the need to investigate a broader range of matters
  • The royal commission was established in February to ensure those who hold a casino licence in Victoria abide by the highest standards
  • Crown Resorts is down 1.61 per cent to $12.20 per share

The Victorian Government said on Friday it would allocate additional time and funding to the royal commission into Crown Resorts' (CWN) Melbourne operations, allowing a broader range of matters to be investigated.

It's another step up in the duration and extent of the regulatory scrutiny on Crown, and comes at a time when the gaming giant is trying to overturn the suspension of its new Sydney casino licence while balancing buyout discussions with Star Entertainment Group.

"Due to the seriousness of evidence produced through hearings and submissions to date," the Victorian Government said in a statement, the August 1 deadline has been extended to October 15 and funding will be almost doubled from $10 million to $19.75 million.

"We established this royal commission to get the answers we need about Crown — and this extension will ensure the scope of evidence provided so far is able to be thoroughly considered," said Victoria's acting Premier James Merlino.

According to the government, the "wider range of matters" relates to the corporate culture of Crown Melbourne, gambling harm minimisation and additional claims brought forward in evidence so far, including allegations that Crown Melbourne underpaid casino tax.

"The evidence we have seen coming out of the royal commission to date is significant — we'll provide the Commissioner with the resources and time required to complete this important work as requested," said Melissa Horne, Victoria's minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation.

The royal commission was established in February to ensure those who hold a casino licence in Victoria abide by the highest standards of probity and integrity.

Just a few weeks later, Western Australia upgraded its own inquiry to a royal commission, which will also focus on the state's Gaming and Wagering Commission that has previously been criticised for being too close to Crown.

"We have initiated a sweeping program of significant reforms, enhancements and personnel changes," said Crown's Executive Chairman Helen Coonan.

"We cannot change the past, but we can be absolutely steadfast in the approach we take to driving the culture and transparency of the company into the future."

Crown Resorts is down 1.61 per cent to $12.20 per share at 1:17 pm AEST.

CWN by the numbers
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