Crown Resorts is about to get a permit to finally open its casino in Sydney, 15 months after it was deemed “unsuitable” by the NSW gambling regulator.
Most important points:
- Last year, Bergin’s research said Crown needed to make significant cultural changes if it was to be a viable operator
- The investigation investigated incidents of money laundering and links with international criminal syndicates
- A prominent casino analyst says that if Crown gets a license now, it would be a “travesty”
Under the plan, which has been confirmed by the ABC, Crown would grant a conditional license for a limited period of time with the potential to become fully certified.
The state cabinet will meet Monday to decide whether to ratify the plan.
Last year, the gambling giant was found “unfit” to have a gambling license for the casino in Barangaroo after a year-long investigation by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA).
At the conclusion of the investigation, Commissioner Patricia Bergin said the company had to make significant cultural changes if it was to be considered a suitable operator in the future.
Her decision meant that the casino portion of Crown’s $2.2 billion skyscraper in Sydney Harbor could not open, but the hotel and restaurants in the building were free to operate.
But now it looks like Crown is so confident that the casino will finally open that it’s promoting a number of game positions in Sydney.
The company is looking for “experienced table game dealers” and a gaming general manager, according to ads posted online.
Crown Resorts has been contacted for comment.
Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole said he would seek advice on the proposal.
“This is a decision of the regulator and they are certainly the authority and body independently identified to actually conduct this assessment of the casino,” he said.
Last year, Crown Resorts made new commitments with the ILGA in an effort to finally open the casino.
The pledges include plans to pay some of the cost of the study, pay a casino surveillance fee, end all international junket partnerships, introduce a cashless gaming model and phase out indoor smoking.
Ben Lee, a casino analyst from Macau, said that if the plan were green-lighted, it would make gambling licensing a “total farce.”
“Where is the dedication that requires a completely clean background before granting a casino license?”
Lee said the Chinese government’s regulatory intervention against gambling meant the VIP market had declined since the casino was first launched by billionaire James Packer in 2012.
“The fact that the Chinese market has completely disappeared and will probably never return means that the business justification for having a second casino, especially one as high-end as Barangaroo, is no longer there.”
Bergin’s investigation found that Crown operated two subsidiary bank accounts as part of its VIP gambling business, which were later found to have facilitated money laundering.
Mr. Packer, who owns 37 percent of Crown, agreed to step down from the company following the investigation.
Earlier this year, Perth Casino Royal Commission found Crown unsuitable to hold Western Australia’s only gambling license.
However, the committee did not call for Crown’s removal of its license, said the casino giant would have to carry out repairs to qualify, and called for the creation of an independent monitor.
In 2021 willVictorian Royal Commission at Crown found casino guilty of ‘outrageous’ conduct and advised it to be stripped of its license if it failed to prove it had reformed itself by 2023.
Crown Melbourne was fined $80 million last month for a scheme that allowed for the illegal transfer of money from China.
Allegations of crime within the casino’s operations were first raised publicly by an ABC Four Corners investigation in 2014 and again by Fairfax investigations five years later.
Last month, Crown shareholders supported an $8.9 billion sale of the company to the world’s largest global investment firm, Blackstone.
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