Crown Melbourne Reopening Delayed as COVID-19 Spike Prompts New Lockdown

  • Victoria premier Daniel Andrews ordered a new six-week lockdown
  • Crown Resorts' Melbourne properties will be forced to remain closed for the foreseeable future
  • Crown opened its Perth casino two weeks ago; other Australian casinos have also reopened
  • An inquiry into Crown's Sydney casino development plans resumed two weeks ago
Crown Melbourne casino sign
Crown Resorts’ Melbourne casino will remain closed as Victoria state officials enforce a six-week lockdown. [Image:]

Another six-week lockdown

Plans to reopen Crown Resorts’ Melbourne casino will be put on hold as the city is forced into its second lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews announced the measures in an aim to prevent a second wave of the COVID-19 virus. State officials decided to place Melbourne back under a strict lockdown and close state borders for at least six weeks. The move comes after Australia’s second-largest city saw a recent spike in virus cases.

191 out of the country’s 199 cases

On Tuesday, the state of Victoria recorded the highest number of cases in Australia since the beginning of the pandemic: 191 out of the country’s 199 cases. As a result, Melbourne’s second lockdown will be stricter than the first. Citizens will be confined to their homes except for when undertaking essential trips.

Crown closed its Melbourne casino on March 23. Despite reopening its Melbourne restaurants and hotels on June 5, the operator must now shut down all of its properties and delay the reopening of its casino.

In March, the Victorian government was criticized for allowing Crown’s Melbourne casino to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Labor politician Anthony Byrne argued that open casinos created a national security concern as the virus spread across the country. Charles Livingstone, a professor at the Monsah University School of Public Health, also warned of the risk to public health. The Victorian government shut down state casinos shortly after.

Other Australian casino reopenings

Crown Resorts’ Perth-based casino, Crown Perth, reopened two weeks ago, more than three months after it suspended operations as a result of the pandemic. The venue reopened with added protocols in place for the health and safety of customers and employees – something Crown CEO Ken Barton described as the company’s “priority”. These measures included five-player maximums for poker tables and high-frequency cleaning.

SkyCity Adelaide reopened on June 29 with reduced hours

Other casinos have also reopened across Australia. Last week, the Star Entertainment Group announced the reopening of its private gaming rooms and food venues in Sydney after consultation with the New South Wales (NSW) government. Similarly, SkyCity Adelaide reopened on June 29 with reduced hours and a members-only door policy.

Crown Resorts’ ongoing court battle

Two weeks ago, the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) resumed its public inquiry into Crown Resorts. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a delay of almost three months to the proceedings.

The ILGA launched the inquiry in relation to Crown’s plans for the development of a $2.4bn casino hotel and luxury apartment tower in Sydney. Among other lines of inquiry, the ILGA intended to assess whether last year’s sale of 20% of Crown to Melco Resorts breached the operator’s Sydney casino license.

the focus of the inquiry has shifted to Crown’s suitability to hold an NSW license

Melco CEO Lawrence Ho has since distanced his company from the case after selling the last of his Crown shares in April of this year. As a result, the focus of the inquiry has shifted to Crown’s suitability to hold an NSW license. The inquiry will look into allegations of money laundering, breach of gambling laws, and links to criminal operations in Australia.

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