Crown Sydney banned from opening in December as planned
Posted on: Nov 18, 2020, 5:04 a.m.
Last update on: November 18, 2020, 5:31 am.
The New South Wales (ILGA) gaming regulator has asked Crown Resorts to put the opening of its A $ 2.2 billion ($ 1.6 billion) Sydney Crown on the ice. It is pending the verdict in February of a license adequacy investigation.
The ailing casino operator had planned to open next month, despite an ongoing investigation into whether it had allowed criminals to launder money through its VIP segment.
There was a halt to trading in the company’s shares on ASX on Wednesday, shortly before ILGA announced its decision.
Lacks the ‘atmosphere’
“The authority found that the ongoing evidence prior to the Bergin investigation was extremely worrying, and that any gambling activity at the casino prior to the release of the investigation findings in February 2021 and considered by the authority would pose unacceptable risks. for the community against the public interest, ”ILGA President Philip Crawford told reporters.
Crawford added that he was “disappointed” that Crown itself had not made the decision to postpone the opening of the casino.
“I think they don’t capture the vibe,” he said. “There are a lot of serious things going around. “
Crawford said ILGA had discussed a limited opening with Crown that would include restaurants and bars but not games. But the operator “did not take care of us. Instead, Crown asked for a gradual opening that included play, which the regulator wasn’t comfortable with, Crawford said.
Junkets linked to the triad
The Bergin survey was launched at the start of the year. It came in response to sordid media reports about Crown’s relationship with junket operators with triad ties. Organizations are said to have washed dirty money at its high limit tables.
Inquiry chair and former judge Patricia Bergin will submit her recommendation on Crown’s licensing suitability to ILGA by February 1. The regulator will then decide the fate of the license and, with it, of the Sydney Crown.
Crown on Wednesday admitted that two bank accounts it controlled for the use of high-yielding players had been used for money laundering.
Lawyers attending the inquiry called for the company to be found unfit to retain its license in New South Wales, criticizing its corporate culture and governance.
The Crown is also facing an investigation by AUSTRAC, the national financial crimes agency.
The new casino, located on the waterfront in Sydney’s Barangaroo district, was designed as an exclusive VIP destination. And it was designed to attract the big Asian players – precisely the kind of clientele that got Crown in trouble. Crown Sydney only offers table games – no slots – and the operator had planned to staff it with Mandarin-speaking workers.
The tallest building in Sydney has a 75-story tower that will include 82 luxury apartments and a six-star hotel. Losing the gaming license would be a total disaster for Crown. Without play, the big guys won’t come and the business will be forced to sell.
“The [ILGA] The decision highlights the potential seriousness of the investigation’s findings and the risk of sanctions and / or significant limitations on Crown property and operations, ”Maadhavi Barber, Moody’s Investors Service analyst, said Wednesday.