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Crown Resorts Perth reopens casino services after lockdown

| By Marese O'Hagan
Crown Resorts' Perth, Western Australia location is set to reopen more services in line with an announcement from the Western Australia Government, after the region's most recent lockdown in response to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

From 8 May, Crown’s Perth location will be able to offer gaming services and unrestricted food and beverage facilities for the first time since the lockdown commenced.

However, some restrictions remain in place. The government announcement outlined that social distancing rules must be followed, with one person per two square meters allowed indoors. To encourage social distancing, Crown Perth has deactivated every second gaming machine.

The lockdown, which began on April 27, banned gaming activity and in-house services such as food and ancillary utilities in casinos. It was implemented after a man reportedly developed Covid-19 in hotel quarantine and entered the local community while infectious.

The lockdown ended on May 1. However, ongoing restrictions remained for casinos, gyms and nightclubs.

Crown’s Melbourne location intensified activity after the Victoria state government relaxed Covid-19 restrictions in March.

Also in March, private equity group Blackstone placed a AUS$8.02bn (£4.47bn/€5.21bn/US$6.19bn) bid to acquire the remaining shares of Crown, of which it already owned 9.99%.

Blackstone purchased the 9.99% shares from Asian gaming giant Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited in April 2020 for $8.15 per share. Melco initially agreed to acquire a 19.99% stake in CPH Crown Holdings, and bought an additional 9.99% after the deal was agreed.

This launched the Bergin inquiry and subsequent report by the New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority, which assessed Crowns suitability for a casino in central Sydney. The inquiry uncovered money laundering and criminal dealings in Crown.

Blackstone later added a clause that would break its deal if either of Crown’s licenses were suspended or Crown did not receive a New South Wales license.