Crown Resorts can officially open its casino floor at the Crown Sydney in New South Wales (NSW). The Australian state’s gaming regulator signed off on the operator’s casino license two years after the property opened its doors.
The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) will allow Crown to open the casino, but with extensive scrutiny. ILGA Chairman Philip Crawford recognized that the operator has created a new gaming business model, the result of extreme negligence and money laundering.
NSW, Victoria and Western Australia found Crown guilty of violating a number of financial and gaming regulations for years. As a result, the company had to make deep structural changes in governance, anti-money laundering (AML) policies and corporate culture.
Crown Sydney Casino on the Map
Crown Sydney’s casino license is only conditional. The ILGA will be watching the company and, if it breaks any rules, the regulator has the authority to pull the license. That isn’t likely, however, since Crown and the ILGA spent a year working on Crown’s corporate infrastructure. The results should keep it out of trouble.
Crawford stated that the ILGA must ensure that Crown makes changes to its operations. He will continue to evaluate Crown’s suitability up to the end of the conditional period, which could last between 18 and 24 months.
Crown Sydney will be able now to offer all its facilities, including accommodation, restaurants and bars, as well as retail. Crown’s CEO and managing director, Steve McCann, expected this day to come, saying recently that the company is ready to be “one of the world’s most respected operators of integrated resorts anywhere in the world.”
The timing couldn’t be more perfect for The Blackstone Group. The private equity firm received final approval to acquire Crown a week ago. Just prior to that, NSW, and other states, approved it to be a licensed casino operator.
Those approvals were the last pieces Blackstone needed to complete its AU$8.8-billion (US$6.6 billion) purchase. As a result, the company expects to assume control of Crown this Friday.
Crown Debacle Forces Regulatory Changes
One of the benefits that arrived from the embarrassing situation Crown put itself in is the overhaul of gambling regulations across Australia. It wasn’t alone, however, as Star Entertainment now finds itself in almost the same situation Crown was in a year ago.
As a result, Australian states are introducing gambling reforms that they hope will hold operators to higher standards. NSW, Queensland and Victoria have already made progress on their reforms, and Western Australia (WA) is adding its name to the list.
The WA government is going to adopt new laws to create an independent chair for its casino regulator. It may also introduce new powers to punish the sector and restore its integrity.
The Casino Legislation Amendment (Burswood Casino) Bill 2022 also calls for a new independent monitor to supervise casino remediation over the next two years. Minister for Finance; Lands; Sport and Recreation; Citizenship and Multicultural Interests Tony Buti said in a statement today that the gaming industry will cover the cost of that position through the new legislation. However, he didn’t specify how.
In addition, it could introduce an increase in the fines for violations. Currently, operators face fines of up to AU$100,000 (US$69,070) for breaking the rules. Now, the amount could increase to AU$100 million (US$69.05 million).
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