Crown Sydney gaming start delayed amid op suitability issue

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 21, 2020

As a result, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has made a decision to withhold regulatory approval for gaming at the casino until an inquiry into Crown's suitability to run the casino wraps up in February next year. After a long delay, Crown released its statement at 11pm on Tuesday. While Crown has a current gaming licence, it also has applications on foot with the authority for a number of other approvals it needs to run the casino, including liquor licences, approval of the gaming floor area and probity checks on some of its directors.

Australian gambling giant Crown Resorts has been blocked from proceeding with the December opening of its new casino in Sydney. "They are not picking up the vibe", he said before Crown announce the delay.

The Crown Resorts board has therefore agreed to postpone the casino's inauguration date. "There is the potential for litigation, but I don't think this would be a good idea in this environment", he said.

The New South Wales gaming regulator ruled today that the consumer discretionary giant was unfit to hold a gaming licence until a review is completed in February.

Crown is now subject to a lengthy inquiry, after it was reported that criminal gangs had laundered cash at its casinos, with Chinese authorities also convicting members of its staff of illegally promoting gambling back in 2016.

Now, Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) Chairman Philip Crawford has decided that he is "not comfortable" allowing the casino operator to take on more gambling responsibility at the new Crown Sydney next month. Commissioner Bergin is tasked with writing a report on this case and she has to deliver it until February 2021.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation told The Guardian that it does not now directly license junket operators. Any changes to the law were the responsibility of the department of justice and community safety, the regulator's spokeswoman said.

Today's decision follows months of investigation into Crown's relationship with junket operators across its Melbourne and Perth casinos.

"In summary, we submit that the evidence presented to this inquiry demonstrates that the licensee is not a suitable person to continue to give effect to the licence and that Crown Resorts is not a suitable person to be a close associate of the licensee", he said.

An ILGA spokesman said it was "not possible for ILGA or Liquor & Gaming NSW to licence junkets under existing laws and regulations". That's the deadline for Commissioner Patricia Bergin to provide her final decision on Crown's fate and, if her comments during this week's meeting are any indication, the future doesn't look very bright for the long-standing, and once respected, casino operator. The authority is prepared to work with Crown to explore options that may enable the opening of non-gaming areas including accommodation, restaurants, bars and entertainment areas next month.

Counsel assisting the inquiry has recommended findings that Crown and Mr Packer are not presently fit to be associated with the new casino.

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