Even though Switkowski will be part of Crown’s reform team, the clash of values between an educational institution and a gaming company, especially one with a history of failing to properly manage responsible gambling, is undeniable.
While there are serious financial challenges facing tertiary education institutions, including RMIT, after COVID-19, the future of Crown appears every bit as tenuous.
Just what Switkowski will earn for the chairman’s role has not yet been detailed in Crown’s public statements. But it should include danger money.
He replaces Helen Coonan, who was paid $2.5 million and whose role included executive duties that Switkowski will not have. It is not clear from RMIT’s annual report what he earned as chancellor, but the top non-executive role of its governing council took home around $1 million.
We will soon find out whether Switkowski bet on the right horse. In October Ray Finkelstein will hand down the Victorian Royal Commission’s report on Crown, including recommendations on whether it is suitable to hold a licence and under which conditions or whether the licence should be revoked altogether. Around the same time the NSW regulator is due to rule on whether Crown will be allowed to hold a licence in NSW and in doing so, open the gaming floors left empty in its Barangaroo development.
Even if Crown manages to retain its casino licences in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia (which is also conducting a royal commission into the company), there is a good chance it will be the subject of a takeover offer from various parties that have expressed an interest in acquiring the wounded corporate beast.
Crown’s recently signed chief executive Steve McCann negotiated a package that contained almost $5 million in danger money to cover the change of ownership contingency.
If Crown’s ownership changes hands Switkowski could also find himself without a role at the casino group and at a loose end.
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