Crown Resorts given green light to open Sydney casino

| By Richard Mulligan
Crown Resorts has been given conditional approval to open its Sydney casino, 16 months after being deemed unfit to hold a gaming licence.

The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) ruled that Crown will be allowed to conditionally begin casino operations, but its operations will be closely monitored during the final phase of the restricted gaming licence suitability assessment that was imposed after the 2021 Bergin Inquiry found Crown unsuitable to hold the licence.

Crown – which has been acquired by Blackstone in a deal worth AU$8.87bn (£5.10bn/€5.87bn/US$6.12bn) – has been prevented from opening the casino in its $2.2bn dining and hotel tower in Barangaroo to gaming patrons for more than a year.

ILGA chairperson Philip Crawford said the decision was made due to Crown’s rebuilding of its gaming model with structural change around governance, anti-money laundering measures and corporate culture.

Crawford said: “After more than a year’s work with Crown, the Authority is pleased to have reached a stage where Crown can open its casino operations on a conditional basis.

“Given the need to observe the changes in operation as well as ensure changes are embedded in the business, the Authority will consider approval of Crown’s suitability until the end of the conditional gaming period, which could run between 18 months and two years.

“The new systems and internal control measures have been set up and will be in place from day one.”

During the initial conditional gaming period, which is scheduled to expire at the end of 2023, Crown will work closely with ILGA and the independent monitor of Crown Sydney, Kroll Associates, to demonstrate its suitability and that it is implementing an agreed remediation action plan.

Steve McCann, Crown’s chief executive, said: “Today is an important day for Crown, our customers and our people, who have been eagerly awaiting this announcement for some time and cannot wait to share the full Crown Sydney experience with the world.

“Our vision is to become one of the most respected operators of integrated resorts anywhere in the world. Since it opened, Crown Sydney has provided the city with an unrivalled level of luxury accommodation, restaurants and bars and now with the opening of gaming, we can offer our full suite of world-class facilities.

“We will now finalise our opening plans and look forward to shortly announcing the details and timing of our launch.”

Crawford said the Bergin Inquiry highlighted the scale and scope of issues to be remediated by Crown, with potentially billions of dollars having been laundered through its casinos.

“Crown has been required to implement a raft of stringent controls to prevent money laundering and criminal infiltration in its NSW business model. What was happening in Crown’s interstate operations will not be repeated in NSW,” Crawford said.

“With a complete clean-out of the board and senior executive, Crown has made significant progress and has agreed to ongoing work to regain its casino licence.”

The ILGA has also approved Blackstone’s suitability to hold a casino licence in NSW. Having gained the other necessary approvals from Victorian and West Australian regulators and the Federal Court, Blackstone takes over as the new owner of Crown on Friday (24 June).

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