Crown Sydney to Reduce Operating Hours, Lay Off Employees

Posted on: November 20, 2023, 07:26h. 

Last updated on: November 20, 2023, 12:01h.

Crown Sydney is apparently no longer the crown jewel of the Australian gaming empire Crown Resorts. It isn’t receiving the amount of traffic it once did, leading to a reduction in operating hours and pink slips for employees.

The Crown Sydney in Barangaroo at dusk
The Crown Sydney in Barangaroo at dusk. The casino is reducing its operating hours and will no longer be open 24/7. (Image: Crown Resorts)

The luxury casino and hotel, situated in the heart of Sydney, will no longer operate its gaming floor 24 hours a day, seven days a week, because of insufficient foot traffic. This marks the second adjustment in less than a year after Crown closed Crown Sydney’s “Mahogany” gaming floor in August.

Starting this month, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, Crown Sydney will operate from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Mondays to Thursdays, and extend its hours to 4 a.m. on Fridays. Saturdays will see a delayed opening at 2 p.m., with closure set for 4 a.m., and Sundays will operate from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Employees Fired a Month Before Christmas

Simultaneously, the reduction in operating hours has led to the decision to release 180 employees across gaming, casino support, and hospitality roles. This brings the total number of employees relieved since the establishment opened just under a year ago to 275.

A spokesperson from Blackstone, the owner of Crown Resorts, stated that efforts would be made to provide alternative opportunities for the affected employees. Possibilities include redeployment to other Crown venues across Australia, offering a glimmer of hope for those facing job cuts. However, in many cases, relocating isn’t a viable option.

The decision underscores the ongoing challenges faced by Australia’s gaming industry as it navigates the lingering impacts of its wrongdoing. Crown and Star Entertainment, as well as other casino operators, are still embroiled in issues related to charges of money laundering, deception, fraud, and other crimes.

Crown had initially planned to open the Crown Sydney property in 2020 before the fallout of inquiries in several Australian states determined that it wasn’t fit to hold a casino license.

The Sydney casino opening was subsequently put on hold, and it didn’t open until August of last year. Crown received a conditional license for the launch, and as long as it complies with new regulations, it might be able to keep it past next April when the conditional license expires.

Crown Can’t Escape the Taxman

Bringing more bad news to Crown, it won’t be able to avoid a larger annual tax bill. It tried and failed to convince the government to give it a break.

A decade ago, Crown signed an agreement worth AU$1 billion (US$655 million) to the government in the way of license fees and gaming taxes. The agreement would be valid for the first 15 years the Crown Sydney property was open.

Having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and delaying the inauguration of the casino led Crown to request that the agreement be rewritten. The government responded Monday, rejecting the request.

Officials did say they’re open to negotiating with Crown to alleviate some of the pressure. What that means in real terms, with Crown’s footprint rapidly changing, isn’t clear.