Posted on: June 3, 2022, 05:34h.
Last updated on: June 3, 2022, 11:00h.
Crown Resorts may soon be able to offer gambling activity at Crown Sydney. The casino opened in December 2020, but didn’t include gambling after New South Wales (NSW) pulled its gaming license.
NSW determined that the casino operator was “unsuitable” to conduct gambling operations responsibly when it suspended Crown’s license. However, Crown may be close to working out a deal with regulators and lawmakers to launch its Sydney casino, according to media outlet ABC.
ABC expects that Crown will receive a conditional license on a probationary status. If Crown plays by the rules, regulators could make the license status permanent. A meeting of the NSW cabinet on Monday will decide whether or not to approve the reinstatement.
Crown Ready to Get Back in the Game
In Victoria and Western Australia, Crown saved itself and didn’t receive a license suspension – both only gave it probation. However, NSW, the first state to out the company for its mismanagement of anti-money-laundering policies, issued the harshest sentence of them all.
Patricia Bergin, Commissioner of Public Affairs, stated that the company had to undergo major cultural changes in order to be considered a future-ready operator. She led what became known as the Bergin Inquiry, which led to Crown’s downfall.
The casino component of Crown’s AU$2.2-billion (US$1.6 billion) skyscraper at Sydney Harbour couldn’t operate because of Bergin’s decision. However, the hotel and restaurants in the building opened to the public.
Crown thought it could recover its license last year. When that didn’t happen, it anticipated a reinstatement this past March. It is now confident that it will soon introduce gambling activity, and has begun advertising employment positions in Sydney. Experienced dealers and a GM of gaming are a few of the opportunities available.
Crown Resorts made renewed commitments to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) last year in a bid for the final opening of the casino. Among these were vows to pay a portion of the Bergin Inquiry costs and a casino supervision fee. In addition, it agreed to the cessation of all junket partnerships, the introduction of cashless gaming, and the elimination of indoor smoking.
Crown Not Worthy of License
Ben Lee, a Macau-based casino analyst, told ABC that if regulators and the cabinet approved the plan, it would be a “total farce” to license gaming in NSW. He questioned how a company can receive a license when it has far from a clean record. He also fails to see the need for another casino.
Lee pointed out that China’s anti-gambling regulations reduced the VIP market in recent years. They have certainly altered the landscape since James Packer, Crown’s founder and former CEO, proposed the casino in 2012.
The fact that the Chinese market has totally disappeared, and is never likely to return again, means that the business justification for having a second casino, particularly one as high-end as Barangaroo, is no longer there,” said Lee.
There are more unanswered questions about Crown’s future besides the success of Crown Sydney. Crown Melbourne in Victoria received an AU$80-million (US$57.5 million) fine last month for allowing gamblers to illegally transfer funds from China. In addition, other states, as well as Australia’s Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, could order the company to pay massive fines.
Crown already settled one lawsuit with shareholders, but others are still pending. There is also the matter of what happens if Blackstone takes over the company. The ILGA has signed off on the acquisition.
Rumors surfaced in February that the investment firm may move to liquidate certain Crown assets if its acquisition is approved. iGamiX Managing Partner Ben Lee said Blackstone will “slash and burn” Crown, possibly leaving it nothing more than a shell of its former self.