A full year and a half after opening bars and restaurants at Crown Resorts’ Barangaroo tower in Sydney the casino has finally been given the green light to open. The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) gave provisional approval Tuesday for the casino to operate from 18 months to 2 years at the $2.2 billion luxury resort on Sydney Harbour.
Crown had been prevented from opening the property’s casino for over a year while investigations ensued and regulators set conditions for the casino operation.
“Crown has rebuilt its gaming model from the ground up, which has meant deep structural change around governance, anti-money laundering measures, and corporate culture,” said ILGA head Philip Crawford said on Wednesday.
He added: “After more than one year’s work with Crown, the authority is pleased to have reached a stage where Crown can open its casino operations on a conditional basis.”
The gaming authority intends to continue monitoring and assessing the operation’s adherence to the changes that have occurred. At the end of the assessment period, the authority will consider granting full approval.
Turning the Page at Crown Resorts
Earlier this month, US private equity firm Blackstone was approved by all regulators and the Australian Federal Court to take over the former Packer company in a buyout valued at $8.9 billion. James Packer reportedly reaped $3.3b for his 37% share after his operations were found ‘unsuitable’ to hold a casino license due to findings of money laundering and possible criminal influence at Crown properties.
It’s been reported that potentially billions of dollars were laundered through the casinos. Crown was not alone in the accusations with Star Group being found similarly unsuitable to possess a license but still allowed to operate its properties.
In 2021 former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin concluded an inquiry that found Crown unsuitable to hold a license. Going forward in order to avoid future problems the NSW government has determined to reform the way casinos are overseen.
Under Watchful Eyes Going Forward
An Independent Casino Commission will be established with expanded powers for compliance and enforcement. Junket operators will not be allowed to deal with the members-only casino. Patrons will be subject to “source of funding” requirements and their accounts will be reviewed and monitored for any suspected criminal activity.
Independent monitors or auditors will be assigned to each license holder in NSW and operators will have to submit suspicious activity reports both to the regulator and to AUSTRAC, the Australian federal financial transactions watchdog.
The ILGA’s Crawford said in a statement: “With a complete cleanout of the board and senior executive, Crown has made significant progress and has agreed to ongoing work to regain its casino license.”
With Blackstone officially taking over the Crown organization Friday, the investment firm was found “suitable” to hold the NSW casino license.
Fully a decade after James Packer offered up the idea of a luxury Sydney waterfront resort and casino – seven years after approval – a year and a half after the building opened with high-end suites, restaurants, and bars, and 14 months after CEO Steve McCann was appointed to head up Crown Resorts, the Chief Executive said, “Over the past 15 months, we have worked closely with ILGA to ensure we have the right measures in place for the commencement of gaming in Sydney and we will continue to work with them on our reform program.”
Source: Crown gets green light to open Sydney casino, Sydney Morning Herald, June 22, 2022