Rumours of the Sale of Crown Casino Intensify

Aerial view of Crown Casino Melbourne
Photo: (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)

Speculation has grown that Australian casino mogul James Packer is looking to offload his 36 per cent share in the casino.

Gambling News reports that Packer celebrated New Year’s Eve on board his $200 million super boat IJE, but right next to his boat in the French Caribbean was docked another super boat, the 92 metre long Queen Miri, owned by Las Vegas casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson and that boat encounter has sparked rumours the Australian is looking to deal his casino.

Considering the mountain of double which fell on Crown Resorts after the New South Wales inquiry into its casino licence suitability, selling out his stake might be the only viable option for Packer, and Adelson is certainly someone who is always on the lookout to add value to his multibillion-dollar empire.

Crown recently opened its new $2.2 billion casino resort in Sydney but was forced to start operations without its VIP casino after the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority ordered a delay until February 1 when the inquiry’s final report is submitted.

Despite that, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation stated its intent not to act solely on the inquiry’s recommendations and wait until the final report submission.

As such, Victoria decided to bring forward by two years Crown’s gaming licence review and the seventh review is now pending the appointment of a dedicated sessional commissioner to lead it.

Earlier, also prompted by the NSW inquiry findings, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre initiated a probe into Crown Resorts’ dealings with high networth individuals and politically exposed persons, to pile further misery on the casino operator.

By that time the inquiry dealt with Crown’s junket partners allegedly linked to Chinese organised crime, including Suncity.

The most serious blow to Crown Resorts’ business plan for its Sydney casino came from Chinese authorities, with the country recently criminalising any organisational efforts to attract local residents overseas for gambling trips.

The move effectively eliminated junkets and cut Crown’s supply to Chinese high rollers, leaving it to scramble for compensation from the local gambling market.

The law amendment also impacted Adelson, due to his large exposure to the gambling market in Macau.

Adelson Impacted by Pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak has implications for the entire casino industry, with Sheldon Adelson coming under increasing speculation that he is looking to offload all of his Las Vegas Sands properties, seeking about $6 billion from a potential buyer.

Adelson has repeatedly stated in the past that his company was always looking to buy value, and if a deal with Packer was discussed, it remains to be seen whether his and Packer’s business evaluations have found common ground.

Former Crown Security Guard Sues Packer for Damages

wooden law gavel on a black background
Photo: Tingey Injury Law Firm

A former Crown casino security guard is pursuing James Packer for damages in court, alleging the billionaire assaulted him.

The Age reported last December that Iskandar Chaban has named his employer, MSS Security, and Crown Resorts as defendants in a civil claim over the alleged altercation on New Year’s Day 2016, where Dr Chaban alleges Mr Packer threatened to have him sacked.

Dr Chaban has claimed in court documents that he did not recognise Crown’s long-serving executive chairman as he approached the main gaming floor at Crown Towers Melbourne with senior colleague Ishan Ratnam.

According to the statement filed on Tuesday, Dr Chaban thought the casino mogul may have been intoxicated at the time.

“The second defendant [Mr Packer] became verbally abusive and threatening towards the plaintiff and ran towards the plaintiff, pushing him in the chest.

“The second defendant then verbally threatened the plaintiff, saying words to the effect, ‘I will throw you out of your job’,” court documents state.

Dr Chaban, who obtained a PhD in philosophy at Melbourne University, claims he was then escorted to an office where he was allegedly “abused, humiliated, intimidated and bullied” by four Crown managers, before he was driven to Southern Cross Station.

The then 60-year-old was later taken to Northern hospital suffering neck and back injuries and he has also been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, according to law firm Carbone Lawyers.

“Our client continues to suffer stress, anxiety and depression as a result of the conduct of Mr Packer and the co-defendants.

“Our client’s life has been devastated by the events that transpired,” Carbone Lawyers partner John Karantzis said.

William Brown

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