Casino Mogul James Packer Donates AU$4M to Australian Wildfire Relief

  • Australian billionaire investor wants to "do his bit" to support the cause
  • AU$4m contribution tops up Packer's November pledge of AU$1m
  • Funds will help fire services, charities in areas that also have Crown resorts
Hand holding flag of Australia and koala bear plush toy
Billionaire James Packer is donating a total of AU$5 million towards the wildfire crisis that’s spreading across the Australian continent. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Crown Resorts founder does his bit

James Packer and his family have donated an additional AU$4m (US$2.75m) to assist firefighters and volunteers as they continue to tackle the bushfires spreading across the continent.

The Aussie billionaire businessman, who owns gambling venues in Australia and London, is best known for his Crown Resorts Foundation.

The AU$4m donation is split between the said foundation and the Packer Family Foundation. It follows after Packer made an initial AU$1m (US$690,000) pledge to support the New South Wales (NSW) Rural Fire Service back in November, reports the Daily Mail.

Horrified by the images of destruction and the loss of life around Australia, the 52-year-old investor said he wanted to “do his bit” to help. He added:

My family and Crown are eager to do more and the best way we can help, is to significantly increase our donation.”

Funds will support wildfire relief efforts

The funds will go towards helping fire services in NSW, Victoria, and Western Australia, areas which also have Crown resorts. The money will also assist charitable organizations that are providing relief to people and wildlife.

Among the recipients of these donations are the Western Australia Bush Fire Brigade and the Victorian Country Fire Authority.

The Crown Casino in Melbourne is said to have offered 200 rooms to Mallacoota evacuees who arrived on a navy ship over the weekend that had nowhere else to go.

Crown casinos under pressure

The timing of Packer’s donation comes as the country’s anti-money-laundering regulator, AUSTRAC, is reportedly increasing its focus on the gambling industry.

According to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, an inquiry is due to begin in three weeks. It will look into allegations that Crown Resorts engaged in money laundering, breached gambling laws, and teamed up with operators that had links to drug trafficking, human traffickers, and organized crime groups.

Additionally, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is to consider Crown’s suitability into holding Sydney’s Barangaroo casino license. This came after Packer agreed to sell a 20 per cent stake in Crown, worth $1.7bn, to Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, which is owned by Hong Kong gambling tycoon Lawrence Ho.

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