Crown Sydney at Barangaroo receives conditional licence to open

Crown chief executive Steve McCann said the company was still finalising an opening date for its casino operation.

“Over the past 15 months, we have worked closely with ILGA to ensure we have the right measures in place for the commencement of gaming in Sydney, and we will continue to work with them on our reform program to showcase our suitability as a casino operator and demonstrate our ability to deliver exceptional experiences in a safe and responsible environment,” he said in a prepared statement.

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

Crown’s casino licence for Barangaroo was suspended in late 2020 amid the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s damning public inquiry into its operations, which found Crown was unfit to operate casinos.

The inquiry’s report, released in February last year, found Crown needed a management overhaul if it ever wanted to hold a casino licence, and the state’s gambling regulator should reconsider Packer’s involvement.

It said it was obvious that Packer, as a 36 per cent shareholder in Crown, exercised the “real power”, which had “disastrous consequences for the company”.

It also called on NSW to establish the Independent Casino Commission, a “dedicated, stand-alone, specialist casino regulator with the necessary framework to meet the extant and emerging risks for gaming and casinos”.

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The ILGA has already approved Blackstone’s $8.9 billion acquisition of Crown, and the private equity group has received probity approval from all of the states in which Crown operates.

The payday for Packer comes more than a decade after he started a campaign to build what was then described as a VIP gambling room inside a luxury hotel on Sydney Harbour.

Packer was approached for comment on the successful approval of Barangaroo’s licence.

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