Little fanfare on opening day
The AU$2.2bn ($1.6bn) Crown Sydney is finally open for business, but minus its casino. Crown Resorts opened the new venue on Monday to little fanfare as its main attraction was missing. The casino project was first approved back in 2013 by the New South Wales government.
under investigation for money laundering and connections to criminal organizations
Crown Resorts is currently under investigation for money laundering and connections to criminal organizations. Because of this, regulators only allowed the facility to open its hotel and dining facilities, restricting the casino from opening until an inquiry into the operator is completed in February.
Non-gambling operations at Crown Sydney
Today, the Barangaroo casino property opened with only non-gaming operations on offer. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the property was quiet during its first hours, with staff members seemingly the only people on site. The hotel is open for business, but it is unclear if anyone has made reservations.
Officials thought the property would be bustling with excitement on opening day, but the lack of crowds is most likely because of the casino closure. Customers have access to the bars and restaurants located on the property, including a’Mare and Nobu. These dining spots began accepting customers during lunchtime hours on Monday.
Crown Sydney chief executive Peter Crinis commented on the opening in an announcement, stating that Sydney is one of the world’s greatest cities and deserves a great hotel.
Casino opening delayed
News of the casino’s possible delayed opening came to light in November. At that time, the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority announced it was going to withhold the property’s operating license while its investigation was ongoing.
The gaming authority is concerned that Crown Resorts is not suitable to operate a casino facility. The inquiry is expected to conclude on February 1. Investigators have linked Crown Resorts to organized crime, particularly junket operators conducting illegal activities. Crown Resorts has agreed to stop any dealings with junket operators for now.
The inquiry also covers major shareholder and former Crown Resorts executive chairman James Packer. The council has deemed Packer unsuitable to associate with a casino license.
Shareholders file a lawsuit
On top of all this, Crown Resorts shareholders have now filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming Crown misled them regarding anti-money laundering compliance. Attorneys for the shareholders filed the class-action suit in the Victorian Supreme Court in mid-December.
Investors want compensation for their losses because of the failings of Crown Resorts. The suit requests that the court consider forcing Crown to buy back shares at a fair rate from those impacted by the recent events.
The lawsuit also wants to see Crown required to implement an anti-money laundering training program by a professional to ensure such issues do not happen in the future.