Former Melco partner Crown unsuitable for Sydney casino

Former Melco partner Crown unsuitable for Sydney casino

Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd – until 2016 a partner in the Macau gaming market alongside the Melco brand – has been found unsuitable to operate a new Sydney casino at Barangaroo, in New South Wales.

A report on Crown Resorts’ fitness to operate casino play at the AUD2.2-billion (US$1.7-billion) Crown Sydney (pictured) was released on Tuesday after being formally tabled in the New South Wales parliament. Crown Sydney is already licensed for – and running – a hotel and some restaurants for its guests.

One of the inquiry’s recommendations was that the state’s Casino Control Act be amended, to prohibit New South Wales casinos from working with junkets; commonly third-party organisations that introduce VIP gamblers to casinos.

The report findings do not mean Crown Sydney’s casino will not be granted a gaming licence. The document suggests a number of recommendations be adopted by the property owner in order to get one.

An inquiry into Crown Resorts’ fitness for gaming at Sydney – commissioned by the state’s relevant regulator, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) – took place last year.

It aired allegations that Crown Resorts had displayed at its Crown Melbourne venue inadequate oversight of its junket partners for VIP gambling, and had exposed itself to money laundering at that property in the state of Victoria.

The inquiry’s head, with the title of commissioner, Patricia Bergin — a former chief judge in the New South Wales Supreme Court — said the company needed to make major cultural changes if it wanted to be deemed a suitable operator.

The first of 19 recommendations mentioned in her report, was that the state’s Casino Control Act needed a fundamental change. This was that it should be amended “to include an additional object of: ensuring that all licensed casinos prevent any money laundering activities within their casino operations”.

Crown Resorts had announced on Tuesday morning – at its own request – a halt in the trading of its stock on the Australian Securities Exchange.

(Updated, Feb 9, 4.50pm)

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