Carded Play Mandates At Crown Melbourne Casino Could Foster Stronger US Responsible Gambling Safeguards

The international brand Crown Resorts implemented revolutionary new responsible gambling measures at its Crown Melbourne casino in Australia last month. Guests looking to play on any of the casino’s electronic gaming machines must now obtain a Crown Player Card, where they’ll be required to set individual time and spending limits.

When it comes to the international casino market, this mandate is the first of its kind. Carded play requirements could become a valuable safeguard for US casinos, but it will take some collaboration from the gambling industry to make it happen.

Crown Resorts Implements Revolutionary Carded Play Measures In Australia

Crown Resorts, Australia’s leading gaming brand, owns and operates three of the country’s most highly visited casinos in the Crown Melbourne, the Crown Perth and the Crown Sydney.

Now, patrons at each of these locations must register for a Crown Player Card before playing slots or any of Crown Melbourne’s nearly 3,000 electronic gaming machines. In addition to providing guests with a helpful way to track progress during each gaming session, the card also allows the casino to enforce responsible play. The new, mandatory measures require players to sign up for a Crown Player Card and commit to time and spending limits before playing.

The casino also features a dedicated PlaySafe team to monitor gambling behavior, identify unsafe gaming, and instigate safety checks when appropriate. And players now have access to expanded problem gambling support resources.

Additionally, the casino enforces time restrictions for guests, limiting them to 3 hours each session, 12 hours daily, and 36 hours each week. After three hours of cumulative play, players must take a 15-minute break before resuming play. Any player who visits the casino for more than 12 hours in a single day is required to take a 24-hour break. And any visitors whose play amounts to 36 hours in a single week will be sanctioned to a cooldown period for the remainder of the week.

Carded Play Vs. Facial Recognition

Electronic slot machines are commonplace in Australian bars and clubs. As a result, problem gambling became a serious problem for the country and reached a high by 2022. To avoid implementing responsible gambling limits for these machines, pokies integrated facial recognition software to scan for problem gamblers excluded from playing.

In an interview with the Australian Associated Press, New South Wales parliament member Cate Faerhmann noted the “terrifying, absurd” reality of this solution, saying:

“Pokies operators are so scared of a mandatory gambling card that they’ve turned to invasive and inconsistent facial recognition technology instead.”

While carded play requirements are far from a proprietary idea, casino operators have traditionally been less than keen on the concept.

By requiring players to set time and spending limits, patrons are encouraged to actively consider their gambling habits rather than frivolously gamble the day away — a habit that dark, smoky casino atmospheres have long incentivized.

What Australia’s Enhanced RG Efforts Mean For The US

In the US, casinos are beginning to make similar attempts at integrating facial recognition software into their establishments. The River Spirit Casino and Resort in Tulsa, OK now uses “face-based” security software to monitor for banned patrons and potential persons of interest. Several Las Vegas Strip casinos also use facial recognition technology, although it’s unclear which ones.

MGM Resorts International spokesperson Brian Ahern noted that MGM, much like many other casino operators, has a policy against discussing security protocol.

In a blog post published this past November, meanwhile, BetMGM alluded to the likely integration of facial recognition software inside its casinos.

That’s where Crown Resorts’ far less invasive solution of mandatory gambling cards could come in handy.

Crown Resorts Casino Under RG Scrutiny In Australia

Crown’s carded play announcement comes after a lengthy history of regulatory mishaps for the casino brand. Following a multi-year money laundering investigation, the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) imposed strict mandates on Crown Melbourne in 2021.

And although the brand still operates under the moniker Crown Resorts, the company underwent a $6.6 billion takeover in 2022 from Blackstone — the US investment bank. The acquisition didn’t resolve any of its regulatory trouble, though. In 2023 alone, Crown’s infractions amounted to $131 million US dollars in total fines.

Crown’s ongoing Australian licensing trouble led Blackstone to ultimately distance itself from that name in the US, where the brand has become a popular mainstay on the Las Vegas Strip. All of its American properties are operated by MGM Resorts International.

Blackstone’s holdings over the past decade have included several US casino brands, such as:

  • Aria
  • Bellagio
  • The Cosmopolitan
  • Mandalay Bay
  • MGM Grand
  • Vdara

So far, no US casinos have adopted RG measures similar to those of Crown Resorts.

It wouldn’t be entirely farfetched to expect some of Crown Resorts’ RG safeguards to make their way into the US gambling industry within the next 5 years. However — much like in Australia — US casinos will likely try a handful of other options before landing on mandated card play.

Alec Cunningham is a lead writer and analyst for Lineups.com. She has covered countless online sports betting and casino legislation topics and now specializes in responsible gambling and gambling addiction recovery. In 2022, she served as a panelist at the All-American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry. As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. After working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer, she returned to her love of written word in 2020. Since then, Cunningham's love of sports has led her to become a responsible gambling advocate.

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