Crown’s Sydney casino is given the go ahead to open in luxury $2.2billion harbourside skyscraper
Crown casino in Sydney gets clearance to open in $2.2bn luxury dockside skyscraper – as ban lifts under strict conditions
- Crown Resorts’ Barangaroo project was given the go-ahead to begin gaming activities
- The Drinking and Gaming Authority has struck a ‘conditional’ deal to keep the casino running
- It comes after the 2021 Bergin investigation found it had ‘facilitated’ money laundering
- The conditional play period runs from 18 months to two years
Gaming group Crown has been given the green light to finally open the casino in its luxury skyscraper overlooking Sydney Harbour.
But the approval by the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority for the members-only gaming facilities at the luxury Barangaroo complex is conditional for up to two years.
“Crown has rebuilt its gaming model from the ground up, leading to a profound structural change in governance, anti-money laundering measures and corporate culture,” chief executive Philip Crawford said on Wednesday.
“After more than a year of working with Crown, the Authority is pleased to have reached a stage where Crown can open its casino operations on a conditional basis.”
The conditional period, which will last from 18 to 24 months, will allow the authority to review the changes made at Crown Sydney and ensure they are ’embedded’ into the business.
The regulator will then consider giving the casino full approval.
It’s a step forward for the once-listed Crown, which is being taken private by US investment firm Blackstone after ticking off a successful $8.9 billion acquisition earlier this month.
Blackstone had to demonstrate that it could comply with the NSW regulator’s proposed reforms to keep the Sydney casino free from criminal influence.
Crown has been prevented from opening the casino in the $2.2 billion food and hotel tower in Barangaroo for more than a year.
The opening was postponed and then blocked after an investigation led by former Supreme Court Justice Patricia Bergin found that Crown was not fit to operate a casino.
Mr Crawford noted that Bergin’s investigation has revealed the magnitude and scope of the problems to be addressed by Crown, with potentially billions of dollars being laundered through its casinos.
“With a full reorganization of its board of directors and senior executive, Crown has made significant progress and has agreed to ongoing work to regain its casino license,” he said in a statement.
The NSW government announced plans on Wednesday to reform state oversight of casinos.
They include the creation of an independent casino committee that will have expanded and expanded compliance and enforcement powers.
Casinos are not allowed to do business with junket operators under the reforms.
The new commission will appoint an independent auditor and monitor for each casino license holder, and casinos will be required to file suspicious activity reports with both the authority and the federal financial transaction watchdog AUSTRAC.
Casinos will also be required to monitor customers’ accounts for suspected criminal activity and identify the source of their funds before they are allowed to gamble.
Similar reforms were also announced Wednesday in Western Australia, where Crown operates the state’s only casino.
A royal commission this year found Crown unfit to run the casino in Perth, but gave the operator two years to clean up its business under independent scrutiny.
It found that Crown and its subsidiaries facilitated money laundering at the casino and allowed junkets with criminal ties to work in the Burswood complex.
An independent chairman will be appointed to WA’s gaming regulator and charged with overseeing the recovery process, while the maximum fine for non-compliance with state regulations will be increased from $100,000 to $100 million.
The opening date for the Crown Sydney casino will be announced shortly.
Crown CEO Steven McCann said the group had worked closely with the regulator to get the Sydney gaming operation up and running.
“We will continue to work with them on our reform program to demonstrate our suitability as a casino operator,” he said.
Blackstone officially takes over as the new owner of Crown on Friday.