Crown Resorts Ready for Gambling at Crown Sydney as Asset Sale Pondered

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Crown Resorts believes it has shown enough remorse to put it back on regulators’ good side in New South Wales (NSW). It announced that it plans to open gaming operations at Crown Sydney by early 2022.

Crown Looks to Return to Action

Crown provided an operational update today as part of an investor presentation at Sydney’s Barangaroo Precinct. Crown stated that it had been making good progress in implementing the reforms outlined in the company’s remediation program.

This plan was recommended in February’s Bergin report into Crown’s suitability for retaining its casino license. It involved working closely with NSW’s gaming regulator, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), to ensure suitability after Crown was deemed unsuitable.

Crown stated Monday that talks were ongoing with ILGA, but that it was “targeting a gambling floor opening early in 2021.” This would be a staged opening based upon current staffing levels, with further recruitment for gaming-related roles to be done before a full start of gaming later in the year.

Crown Tries to Right the Ship

Crown stated that there are currently 420 employees in gaming-related roles at Crown Sydney. It also said that the gaming areas were available for opening on a phased basis, pending a decision by the ILGA.

Crown began some non-gaming operations in December 2020. Recently, Crown was granted an eight-month extension for three interim liquor licenses that allow alcohol to be sold in bars and restaurants throughout the property.

Monday’s announcement by the company showed that all non-gaming services are now in operation after Oncore by Clare Smyth, the last restaurant to open, began receiving patrons on 18 November 2021.

Asset Sale on the Table

As the Crown board considers the $12.50-per-share Blackstone offer, CEO Steve McCann said that the group is also seeking to sell off non-core assets. This could include the sale of its London Aspinalls casino and its interest in Nobu Japanese restaurant, as well online wagering sites Betfair and DGN Games. McCann added:

“We are of course, very focused on our core portfolio. So, as you would expect, you might see us looking at the divestment of some of our non-core assets going forward. We’re certainly open to considering any opportunity that we think might realize the true value in those assets.”

Crown Resorts CEO Steve McCann

The new boss of the casino empire did not rule out the possibility of splitting the casino group into separate operating and property businesses, called “opco/propco,” to preserve the casino conglomerate’s residual value.

McCann added, “We’ll be looking at every alternative to try and maximize value, but as I said, the very first step is getting open in Sydney and making sure that the market can see the value of these fantastic assets and get trading back up post-pandemic – that will be the biggest thing we can focus on, but we won’t be dismissing any alternative.”

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