Crown Casino Would Not Open before Final Inquiry Report

Crown’s scheduled opening for its newly-built AU$2.2 billion casino resort in Barangaroo near Sydney will be delayed, after the New South Wales (NSW) regulator officially asked the casino operator to postpone the opening until February at least.

Casino Opening Delayed

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) requested the casino operator to delay the reopening until the full report from the inquiry into the operator’s suitability for a casino license is submitted. The regulator met Wednesday to hear final submissions from Crown as to why the reopening should remain unaffected.

Crown may have an operating license for a casino, yet it needs other approvals to run the casino, such as liquor licenses, directors’ probity checks and an approval for the gaming floor area, all pending on the authority leading the inquiry.

“We are hopeful that Crown Resorts will agree to our request to postpone opening of all gaming activities, which would be unable to begin without approval of these regulatory matters.”

Philip Crawford, Chair, ILGA

And while the ILGA would not mind Crown opening the hotel and restaurant at the resort, granting the approval for gaming would not happen before the inquiry’s report in 2021.

“There is the potential for litigation, but I don’t think this would be a good idea in this environment.”

Philip Crawford, Chair, ILGA

The chair of ILGA further expressed his disappointment that Crown did not propose the delay itself, noting its officials “are not picking the vibe”. Eventually, Crown agreed to delay the opening of its new casino resort and notified the stock exchange in a statement.

The official request from the ILGA came after recommendations from the counsel assisting the inquiry that the casino operator should be found unfit for running a casino, in addition to the proposed ousting of major shareholder James Packer and his influence on the board.

Former judge Patricia Bergin who is leading the inquiry is expected to hand the final report from the investigation on February 1, and the regulator cannot assess before that date the evidence of Crown’s involvement in possible money laundering and dealings with junkets having links to organized crime.

Crown Admitted to Money Laundering

Wednesday morning Crown dropped a bombshell to the inquiry, admitting that its bank accounts were probably used for laundering of dirty cash, a late admission which emphasized past failings of late report deliveries, according to Patricia Bergin.

The admission for money laundering puts the narrative into the frame of crime, possibly drugs, child sexual exploitation, people trafficking and terror financing, Philip Crawford outlined, expressing the concern of ILGA.

“Any gaming activity at the casino before the inquiry’s findings are released in February 2021 and considered by the authority would pose unacceptable risks on the community against the public interest.”

Philip Crawford, Chair, ILGA

After ILGA’s decision, Crown issued a statement that the non-gaming part of the casino resort would continue to coordinate with the regulator for the planned opening, in the absence of gaming operations.

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