- »Crown’s Sydney Licence Could be Returned in 2021
Crown’s Sydney Licence Could be Returned in 2021
Bloomberg reports that there is a realistic prospect that Crown Resorts’ casino licence will be reinstated in the second half of 2021.
Chairman of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Philip Crawford said it is a “realistic prospect” that the watchdog will decide in the second half of 2021 that Crown is once again suitable to run its A$2.2 billion Sydney gaming resort.
Crown must first “get their structures in place” and is already making significant progress, Crawford said.
His comments were first reported by The Australian and confirmed by the ILGA.
Crown was found unfit to run its new Sydney casino in February after a report commissioned by the regulator exposed widespread management, governance and culture failings.
Chief executive officer Ken Barton and five other directors have since quit, and Crown has committed to “root-and-branch change.”
Crown’s official rehabilitation before the end of 2021, earlier than some analysts forecast, would be a potential boon for Blackstone Group, the US private equity firm trying to buy Crown for A$8.02 billion.
Crown said in late March it is assessing Blackstone’s proposal, as the Australian company still faces official inquiries into its suitability to run casinos in Melbourne and Perth.
Mr Crawford said ILGA’s probity assessment of Blackstone as Crown’s potential new owner would extend “well into the second half” of this year.
“It’s quite an exhaustive process,” he said.
Those comments were reported in the Australian Financial Review and also confirmed by ILGA.
NSW gambling card supported by Bergin inquiry
A recent report into NSW’s potential newest casino could have uncovered a problem for the state’s near 100,000 poker machines and their operators.
The ABC reported in February that buried deep in the 800-plus page report into Crown Resorts’ suitability to hold a casino licence for its Barangaroo casino, was a finding by Commissioner Patricia Bergin that could cause grief for the machine operators.
In October 2020, the NSW minister responsible for gambling, Victor Dominello, said he was considering the introduction of a government-issued gambling card for all poker machine players.
The idea was that gamblers would pre-load their card with the amount of money they were prepared to lose.
Because the card would be linked to an individual’s ID, the minister argued, it would not just minimise harm to problem gamblers but reduce money laundering as well.
In her report, Commissioner Bergin made it clear she thought Mr Dominello’s proposal would help address one of the key issues she wanted dealt with – money laundering by organised criminals.
“The proposal has been the subject of some public debate and is not free from controversy,” she wrote.
“However, it appears that the very significant utility of the card to assist the problem gambler could not be in issue.
“It is also obvious that it would be a powerful mechanism to assist in combating money laundering.”
Since the publication of the report, Philip Crawford, the chair of the NSW regulator, has urged the government to back the gambling card.
“It’s a terrific way to shore up the issue of money laundering by organised crime,” he said.
Mr Crawford is concerned that if the focus is just on casinos laundering money, the practice will continue to flourish elsewhere.
“We don’t want it washing into the suburban pubs and clubs because it’s a big industry.
“You’ve seen the numbers and it’s massive, so it’s something we want to attack as a regulator.”
“We think it’s legitimate and we’ve got a minister who is committed to it. The stars are aligning. Let’s use the opportunity and the momentum for some really good change.”