Crown Gets Greenlight to Finally Open AU$2.2bn Sydney Casino

  • The Sydney casino will be able to open on a conditional basis for up to two years
  • Crown has made sufficient changes to its operations and governance, says the ILGA
  • US-based private equity firm Blackstone will take over ownership of Crown on Friday
  • The NSW and Western Australia governments have announced casino oversight overhauls
Sydney waterfront
The Crown Sydney casino will now finally be able to open its doors after the NSW ILGA awarded it a conditional license. [Image:]

Implementing positive changes

Crown Resorts can finally open its AU$2.2bn (US$1.5bn) casino in Sydney. The firm completed construction on the property, which overlooks the Sydney harbor, in December 2020, but has been unable to open its casino due to sanctions by the New South Wales (NSW) authorities. There is no official opening date for the casino operations as of yet.

on a conditional basis for the next 18-24 months

The approval from the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) means that the casino resort can offer gaming on a conditional basis for the next 18-24 months. As a result of changes Crown has implemented over the past year, the ILGA believes that the company is at a point where it can now offer gambling.

Speaking on Wednesday about the Crown Sydney, ILGA chairman Philip Crawford said: “Crown has rebuilt its gaming model from the ground up, which has meant deep structural change around governance, anti-money laundering measures, and corporate culture.”

Close monitoring of the operations

As reported by The Guardian, during the conditional period, the ILGA will closely monitor all changes at Crown Sydney to ensure their continuation. Following the conditional period, the regulator will then decide if the casino deserves to receive full licensing approval.

Bergin deemed Crown unfit to operate the Sydney casino

The Sydney property was initially only able to open its hotel and dining establishments following a wide-ranging inquiry into Crown. In February, former Supreme Court justice Patricia Bergin deemed Crown unfit to operate the Sydney casino after a long investigation. The inquiry uncovered instances of money laundering and links to organized crime.

Crown is now a private company after it was taken over by US private equity firm Blackstone in an AU$8.9bn (US$6.1bn) deal that came to a close earlier in June. In order to take over the casino operations, Blackstone had to prove that it would make the changes necessary to prevent any further issues. Blackstone will officially take over as the owner of Crown this Friday.

Provincial governments increasing oversight

Also on Wednesday, the NSW government announced plans to overhaul the oversight of casinos in the region. One of the proposals will see it create an Independent Casino Commission that will have widespread enforcement and compliance powers. The reforms ban casinos from working with junket operators and increase reporting obligations regarding any suspicious activity.

Crown Resorts’ main competitor in Australia Star Entertainment is also dealing with numerous investigations into its activities. Most recently, the Queensland government launched an investigation into Star.

Similar reforms are also supposedly on their way in Western Australia where Crown Resorts operates the province’s sole casino. A royal commission in Western Australia found Crown unsuitable to operate the Crown Perth casino, but the operator has a two-year period to make changes under the watch of independent monitoring.

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