Crown’s Sydney casino unlikely to open this month after damning report

The casino anchoring Crown Resort’s multi-billion development at Barangaroo is unlikely to open this month after an inquiry deemed the company unsuitable to operate it.

While a hotel, and several restaurants in the tower have already opened at the $2.2 billion development, the casino remains mothballed after the inquiry cast serious doubts on the company’s culture.

The inquiry was commissioned by NSW’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) after allegations of money laundering and other systemic issues at Crown’s existing casinos in Melbourne and Perth were aired as far back as 2014.

Commissioner Patricia Bergin stated that Crown must overhaul its business practices if it wanted to be considered a suitable operator in the future.

“One of the difficulties for Crown was its unjustified belief in itself and its unwillingness to entertain the prospect that there was any force in any of the Media Allegations,” the report stated.

The final report made 19 recommendations which included changes to the Casino Control Act, the establishment of the Independent Casino Commission to regulate the gaming sector and forbidding NSW casino operators from dealing with operators who bring high-rollers or VIPs from abroad.

Commissioner Bergin’s recommendations must still be officially adopted by the ILGA.

The Victorian Government said it would also examine the findings of the Bergin inquiry in regards to Crown’s sole casino license in the state.

West Australian Gaming Minister Paul Papalia described the report’s findings as “deeply concerning”.

“The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries has requested that the state solicitor urgently assess the findings of the report and advise the Gaming and Wagering Commission of the relevance of the findings to Western Australia,” Papalia said.

“The department has also requested that the commission meet urgently once it has received the state solicitor’s advice in order to consider the report sooner than planned.”

Crown reacted almost immediately to the final findings with the resignation of board members Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston who were reported to be allied with former director James Packer.

ILGA chair Phillip Crawford said the pair’s resignation was a “very accepting” sign Packer’s influence was being diminished, with discussions with Crown to acquire a casino licence by April beginning soon.