Crown Resorts has agreed to implement cashless gaming at its yet-to-be-opened casino in Sydney. The decision is part of the embattled casino operator’s ongoing attempt to be deemed suitable to hold a gaming license in New South Wales (NSW) by the state’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA).
In February, former NSW Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin issued her ruling on the ILGA Inquiry into the Aussie casino giant.
Bergin concluded that Crown is not suitable to possess casino privileges because of the company’s alleged ties to organized crime and failure to adequately prevent its casinos from being used to launder money. Since then, Crown has been working closely with the ILGA to satisfy the ILGA concerns.
ILGA Chairman Philip Crawford said yesterday that Crown has agreed to require all gamblers to use a cashless card system that must be linked to a recognized financial institution. Crawford explained that Crown has also agreed to cease all relationships with international VIP junket groups, close its offices in Hong Kong, and immediately pay A$12.5 million (US$9.66 million) to cover costs associated with the ILGA Inquiry.
Crown Casino Opening
The $1.7 billion Crown Sydney in Barangaroo opened on Dec. 27 last year but without a casino. The ILGA approved issuing the property an interim liquor license as the gaming review endures. Crawford said this week that Crown Sydney is moving closer to opening its VIP gaming space.
We’ve extended the liquor license until the end of October,” Crawford revealed. “And I think you can assume that we are hopeful, or confident, that the opening of the gaming rooms will happen well in advance of the end of October.”
Crown rival Star Entertainment, which just this week made an A$9 billion (US$6.96 billion) cash and stock offer for the larger Crown, has told NSW that it, too, will go cashless at its Star Sydney casino.
US-based private equity behemoth Blackstone also has an offer on the table for Crown to consider. The firm has presented Crown with an all-cash bid of US$6.5 billion.
Bergin’s damming report greatly criticized Crown’s leadership. In the wake of the finding of unsuitability, five Crown board members departed, and so did CEO Ken Barton and General Counsel Mary Manos.
James Packer, Crown’s billionaire founder who has battled mental health issues in recent years, but whose behavior was nonetheless deemed by Bergin as “intolerable,” no longer has any influence or control of the company’s business dealings. However, he still maintains a 37 percent stake in the organization.
Consulting giant Deloitte is currently amid an audit of Crown’s bank accounts and financial records, and an independent monitor is combing through the corporation’s governance and culture.
“The authority will await the report from the independent monitor, and the result of the financial accounts audit, before making a final decision on suitability,” Crawford concluded.