James Packer Resigns from Crown Resorts Board Citing Mental Health Issues

Posted on: March 21, 2018, 01:00h. 

Last updated on: March 21, 2018, 10:11h.

Billionaire James Packer has resigned as director of Australian casino giant Crown Resorts to undergo treatment for mental illness.

James Packer resigns with mental health issues
James Packer is believed to be receiving treatment for depression and anxiety in the US. The billionaire, who has a history of depression admitted in an interview last year that he was losing friends and becoming reclusive. (Image: Tracey Nearmy/AAP)

A spokesman for his private investment company, Consortium Press Holdings, said on Wednesday that Packer was “suffering from mental health issues” and “intends to step back from all commitments.”

In a separate statement Crown Resorts CEO John Alexander declined to elaborate on the reason for the resignation.

“We have appreciated James’ contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down,” he said.

Packer, who is believed to be in the US where he is receiving help for anxiety and depression, has had an on-off relationship with the Crown board in recent years. He rejoined the board last year, having previously resigned in 2015.

Trouble at the Top

It’s been a tumultuous few years for Packer, both personally and professionally. Crown was forced to scale back its international operations in the wake of arrest and imprisonment of a group of employees in China for “gambling crimes.”

That meant selling down its interest in Melco-Crown, the company Packer formed with Lawrence Ho to build spectacular integrated resorts in Macau and the Philippines, as he sought to reduce investment exposure to the region.

But it also meant walking away from the Alon project in Las Vegas to concentrate on more dependable revenue streams closer to home.

Meanwhile, Packer has also been caught up in the ongoing corruption investigation by Israeli authorities into the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, after it emerged the Australian had presented Netanyahu with a series of gifts.

Mariah Carey Split

Packer’s 2016 engagement to Mariah Carey and subsequent break up last year propelled the billionaire onto the cover of the world’s tabloids, while his 2014 street brawl with an Australian TV executive also garnered unwanted press attention.

Since his break with Carey, he has kept a low profile and rarely visited his home country. In a rare interview, with an Australian newspaper last October, he admitted to having lost friends and to becoming increasingly reclusive.

Of his relationship with Carey, he said: “I was at a low point in my personal life. She was kind, exciting and fun. Mariah is a woman of substance. But it was a mistake for her and a mistake for me.”

Packer has battled depression before, most notably following the collapse of his telecoms company One-Tel in the early 2000, and after his split with first wife, Jodie Mears.

He credited Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology for helping him recover. “When I was at my lowest, Tom Cruise reached out to me. He believed in me when other people didn’t,” he said.