New Year Launch in the Cards for Crown Resorts’ Troubled Sydney Casino

  • The ILGA has confirmed it is working with Crown to open the casino in early 2022
  • The regulator said the group has made progress on several government reforms
  • Crown opened the AU$2.2bn Crown Sydney in December 2020 minus the casino
  • The casino will roll out gaming operations on a staged basis while it recruits staff
  • Crown believes Blackstone’s AU$8.5bn takeover bid undervalues its business
Crown Sydney
Troubled Australian operator Crown Resorts and its regulatory overseer are working together to launch Crown Sydney’s casino in early 2022. [Image:]

Crown, ILGA in ‘frequent discussions’

Steven McCann, the new CEO of Australia’s Crown Resorts, has said the troubled gaming giant aims to open its Sydney casino in early 2022.

At an investor briefing on Monday, McCann said his firm was in “frequent discussions” with the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) about the opening of Crown’s Sydney casino in Barangaroo.

a gaming floor opening early in the new year.”

The New South Wales (NSW) regulator, which oversees Crown’s license, said the group has made good progress on several government reforms, as reported by Reuters. It confirmed it is working with Crown “towards a gaming floor opening early in the new year.”

First roll of the dice

Crown Resorts opened its flagship AU$2.2bn (US$1.7bn) Crown Sydney operation in December 2020, minus the casino. The ILGA allowed the casino to launch with just hotel and dining facilities.

The regulator barred the Crown Sydney casino from opening until a NSW inquiry into the operator could complete its investigations in February 2021. After the inquiry found evidence of money laundering and links to junket operators, it deemed Crown Resorts unsuitable to hold a Sydney casino license.

Speaking at Monday’s investors’ meeting, McCann said the Crown Sydney hotel business was on the up. Since mid-November, the CEO said occupancy was averaging about 40% with average room rates “around twice the competitor set in the Sydney market.”

In order for the casino to open in 2022, Crown Sydney will roll out gaming operations on a staged basis “given current staffing levels,” McCann said. The CEO explained that his firm first needs to recruit more staff for gaming-related roles before it can operate the casino at full clip.

A much-needed boost

With the renewal of interstate travel in Australia and the seemingly imminent new year opening of its Sydney casino, Crown Resorts is expecting a much-needed boost to its earnings.

On Monday, McCann also mentioned the potential of the group adding a fourth hotel to its Melbourne portfolio. All these moves come amid an AU$8.5bn (US$6.2bn) takeover offer from US private equity giant Blackstone Inc.

shareholders have “been through quite a lot”

Despite Crown believing the multibillion-dollar bid undervalues its business, it has still allowed the US firm to conduct due diligence. McCann didn’t comment Monday on discussions with Blackstone, but did say that Crown shareholders have “been through quite a lot” and “deserve to be appropriately rewarded.”

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