Perth casino inspector quizzed over mystery report, conflict of interest

By Melissa Coade

Friday May 28, 2021

Crown Casino, Perth.
Crown Casino, Perth. (Image: Adobe/Rafael Ben-Ari)

A retired bureaucrat has been asked by the Perth Casino Royal Commission why a report he did not author, and that made the way for changes at the gaming and liquor watchdog, had his name on it. 

The ABC reports that the WA Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC) paper recommended a pre-approval requirement for junket operators be lifted, and that further steps were taken by the watchdog to abolish all regulation of junkets at Crown Perth.

Nick Toyne told the Perth Casino Royal Commission on Wednesday that he was outraged his name appeared on the report he did not author. He gave evidence that he was neither aware of the report nor its contents until March this year.

The GWC regulates 54 different venues across Western Australia. As a result of the report that bore Toyne’s name, the gaming and liquor watchdog made changes that meant junket operators were not required to prove their good character, financial standing, or show records about their criminal records from other jurisdictions. 

Toyne failed to raise his issues about the change with his bosses, even though he said he did not agree with the GWC decision to lift the requirements because he thought police should play a role in assessing junket operations. 

The ex-casino inspector went on to say that despite his position on the subject, if he had written the agenda paper on juket regulations, he would have produced something similar anyway because ‘it was quite clear the [director-general] wanted the junket regulations repealed’.

Toyne told the Commission that from mid January until early March 2010 he was on sick leave and that he did not have a relationship with his former boss that meant he could ask why junket approvals had been abolished by the time he returned to work. 

Toyne’s GWC bosses were Barry Sargeant (former director-general of the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor) and Michael Connolly (former chief casino officer).

“In my opinion, Mr Sargeant and Mr Connolly had a very autocratic management style and it wouldn’t have been conducive to question the process, it had occurred,” he said.

“I wasn’t aware it had been put in under my name.

“I was just informed, I just learnt that the regulations had been repealed.”

According to the ABC, Toyne testified that it was common practice for him to sign agenda papers that he had prepared. However he denied recognising the signature on the GWC report in question as his own. When asked by Senior Counsel assisting the royal commission Patricia Cahill if that meant someone else must have signed on Toyne’s behalf, he replied ‘yes’ but that he had ‘no idea whatsoever’ whose initials they were.

Other former GWC colleagues have testified to the royal commission that Toyne was linked to the mysterious report. WA casino control officer Mark Beecroft gave evidence that Toyne was the report author.

“The Gaming and Wagering Commission agreed on the basis of a paper presented to it back in 2010, I think by Mr Toyne, that recommended the removal on the basis that there was a duplication of processes,” Beecroft said.

Barry Sargeant gave evidence to the royal commission earlier this month, testifying that he was ‘pretty sure’ on his recollection that Crown had requested the junket rules be reviewed by WA’s  Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor.

The royal commission has also grappled with conflict of interest problems between the GWC and Crown Casino, including a number of inspectors who were married to casino staff.

Toyne, who married a casino employee while he was working as a GWC inspector, said that he had declared the relationship verbally. In hindsight, he said he thought he should not have worked for a casino watchdog while married to someone employed in the industry. 


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