Crown on track for Sydney casino operations by October

Crown Barangaroo

Crown Resorts is on track to opening the casino at its Barangaroo resort in Sydney before the end of October after making “significant” progress in its efforts to regain suitability for a license, according to the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

In a press release, the regulator outlined steps taken by Crown and further measures that had been agreed with the company. 

Crown was told it was unsuitable to operate the casino at its new Sydney property, which has opened without gaming and under a temporary liquor license. The finding followed a bruising inquiry that heard allegations of money laundering and extensive corporate governance failings.

“We’ve extended the liquor licence until the end of October,” said ILGA Chairman Philip Crawford. “And I think you can assume that we are hopeful and-or confident that the opening of the gaming rooms will happen well in advance of the end of October.” 

As part of the latest discussions, Crown agreed to pay a fee towards the cost of the Bergin inquiry of $12.5 million, as well as to pay an annual Casino Supervisory Levy of $5 million for 2021 and 2022. 

Crown also confirmed it will no longer deal with junket operators and and closed its overseas offices. International VIP activities will now be run out of Australia.

The company will also phase out indoor smoking in all of its Australian resorts by December of next year and has agreed to use cashless technology for gaming activities. 

“While we recognise we have more work to do, we welcome ILGA’s indication today that Crown’s reform implementation is well-advanced towards suitability to operate gaming at Crown Sydney,” said Crown’s Executive Chairman, Helen Coonan said. “It’s important to know we are well on track but I have assured the regulator there will be no complacency as we continue to embed the changes to improve our governance and compliance processes across the organisation.” 

A key step towards regaining suitability will come from a report by an independent monitor of the company’s structural changes, including its anti-money laundering, procedures.

“The Authority will await the report from the Independent Monitor, and the result of the financial accounts audit, before making a final decision on suitability” Crawford said.

Another key issue will be the relationship between Crown and its largest shareholder, Consolidated Press Holdings, owned by James Packer.

The probe found that CPH exercised undue influence over the company.

Crawford said the ILGA has entered into an agreement with CPH to address issues around its influence and control over the management of Crown.

Crown is currently evaluating at least two takeover proposals, which would end its ties with CPH. One is from Blackstone Group and the other a merger proposal from rival operator, Star Entertainment. 

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