Crown Proposes “Working Test” Instead of Casino Opening Delay

Crown is desperate to salvage the opening of its AU$2.2 billion casino in Barangaroo near Sydney after the New South Wales (NSW) regulator asked the operator to delay the casino opening until the final inquiry report is submitted.

Working Test to Save the Day

In a last ditch attempt, Crown proposed to open the casino and operate under supervision to address the shortcomings revealed by the inquiry, suggesting the best way to prove its suitability for a casino license is by a “working test”.

Instead of delaying the casino operations, Crown should open the gambling facility and implement necessary reforms in terms of anti-money laundering controls, management restructuring and overhaul of the company’s culture, Crown counsel Neil Young told Commissioner Patricia Bergin a day after the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) asked the operator to delay the casino opening.

The inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a casino license which was running for weeks met Wednesday to hear final submission from the casino operator, and Crown threw the gauntlet and admitted that money laundering might have taken place through its two bank accounts.

The admission to possible money laundering changed the narrative for the regulator as it raised further concerns related to crime, and ILGA Chairman Philip Crawford stated Wednesday that the regulatory body would not allow the opening of the casino until the inquiry submits its final report on February 1.

Close Oversight to Clean the Act

Crown’s counsel proposed ILGA to station inspectors inside the casino during the working test period and implement reports on daily basis followed by in-depth audits and reviews.

“Many of the matters that the authority may wish to be satisfied about are going to be matters that require a ‘working test’. Some of them are best addressed in the context of the way in which the casino operates, by way of close oversight [and] review of those operations.”

Neil Young, Counsel, Crown Resorts

Regarding recommendations from the counsel assisting the inquiry that Crown should restrict board presence of its major shareholder James Packer and cut off his influence on decision-making, Neil Young disagreed. The counsel for Crown claimed the current status of the relationship between the casino operator and the shareholder and his Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) is now “stock-standard”.

Last month Crown Resorts terminated agreements with CPH and James Packer under the terms of which Packer had an exclusive access to confidential information, as well as special services provision for the casino by CPH executives. The owner of 36% stake at the casino company admitted to the NSW inquiry during the hearings to have mental issues and unacceptable behavior.

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