March 5, 2018 / 4:25 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Crown Resorts says Melbourne unit did not breach gambling regulation act

(Adds stock movement, background, commission response)

By Ambar Warrick

March 5 (Reuters) - Australia’s Crown Resorts said it did not breach gambling regulations when it conducted a trial of gaming machines last year, though the state regulator has informed the casino operator that the trial may have contravened rules.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation is taking the view that a trial involving varying a gaming machine type and certain games conducted by Crown Melbourne in 2017 may have breached the gambling regulation act (GRA), Crown Resorts said in a statement on Monday.

The company said that the trial did not require prior approval and therefore did not breach the act, the statement added. It said that its Melbourne unit had recently provided a detailed submission of its position to the commission.

A spokesperson from the Victorian Commission said it was currently considering information provided by Crown to determine whether there were grounds for disciplinary action.

Crown, controlled by billionaire James Packer, has battled several unproven claims of poker machine fixing and encouraging problem gambling at its flagship Melbourne casino, although it was acquitted in December of allegations that it gave gamblers misleading odds.

The company was also slapped with a class action lawsuit in December for allegedly failing to inform shareholders of a marketing campaign in China that resulted in staff arrests and a slump in the share price.

Shares of the company fell about 0.9 percent in afternoon trade, compared to a 0.6 percent decline in the broader market . (Reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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