- Legal States
Kyamil Nasuf June 6, 2022 4 min read
New Job Ads Signal Crown Sydney Casino Might Get License After All
New job ads for casino personnel at Crown’s Sydney venue signal that the venue may be turning a new page officially. Updates and official statements are still upcoming.
Job Ads Mean Business
The Bergin inquiry into Crown’s operational activities found the Sydney property was “unfit” for a license after it concluded the year-long review process on the company’s AU$2.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) project. As per the report, “sweeping changes” were needed. However, the gaming license was ultimately never out of play. Now, almost another year after that, Crown seems to be on the right side of NSW’s gaming regulatory body – the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA).
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the initial license will be a temporary one for a set period of two years and it will also give the green light for the Blackstone acquisition, worth AU$8.9 billion (US$6.5 billion), which is already approved by shareholders in light of these new operative prospects. As per the SMH report, a Crown spokeswoman has said the casino will continue “to work closely” with ILGA and that it “welcomes any decision allowing gaming to commence in Sydney,” signaling Crown is already actively preparing for a gaming operation launch.
The initial opening day was set for 2020 but the Bergin inquiry put a hold on that plan, and in December 2020 only non-gaming operations were launched. The hotel and restaurant parts of the project were free to operate and were issued a temporary liquor license. Now, new job ads for the casino have started popping up, meaning this new two-year temporary license is probably imminent.
ABC’s Jake Lapham reported that ILGA is “recommending a license with a long list of conditions”, meaning this can potentially be a two-year period of heavy regulations and close inspections, trying to ensure Crown keeps its act clean while remaining profitable at its new Barangaroo casino at the same time.
Fines, Law Breaches Reasons for License Problems
After a series of local reports led to the inquiries into Crown’s activities, Crown was found to be “unfit” for a gaming license as per the report from the Bergin inquiry back in February of 2021. A big part of that decision was the discovery of a series of unethical and illegal activities including money laundering, casino law breaches, and more.
AUSTRAC opened a civil penalty proceeding against Crown Resorts, confirming regulatory suspicions of AML failings and paying special interest to how the Melbourne venue managers coped with politically exposed or otherwise vulnerable gamblers at the facility. Although harsh, this was not a show-stopper and the company has already expressed its intentions to fully cooperate and is ready to implement an overhauled “approach to managing financial crime risk.”
Just recently, Crown was fined by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) a record AU$80 million ($57.4 million) fine for the China UnionPay (CUP) scheme in the Melbourne venue. The scrutiny over Crown Melbourne’s activities leads to another fine –AU$1 million ($720,000) – before that, for disobeying requirements, concerning junket operations. This was the maximum fine possible for that occasion.
Competitors Afflicted as Well
Competitor Star Entertainment is currently under a very similar regulatory review with Adam Bell SC at the helm of the inquiry, and assisting counsel Naomi Sharp SC. Sharp has already made some serious accusations of casino, corporate and criminal law breaches. Star was found to have implemented a very similar CUP payments scheme to Crown’s, which does not bode well for the end of the inquiry into Star’s endeavors. A verdict on Star’s suitability to hold a license and operate a casino is due in August.