Crown expecting to commence Sydney gaming operations in early 2022

Crown Resorts Melbourne, Victoria

Crown Resorts is anticipating opening the gaming floor of its $2.2bn Crown Sydney Hotel Resort during the early stages of next year, although the group does note that an official date is yet to be confirmed by the regulator.

The company made the announcement in an investor briefing, in which it added a belief that it has made “good progress” with its culture transformation program that is looking to address an array of significant failings previously identified.

This saw a royal commission launched in New South Wales following a scathing report, commissioned by the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority and led by former supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, which deemed the company unfit to operate its Sydney venue.

The almost 800-page critique of the group’s suitability, which itself followed allegations raised by Australia’s Nine Network, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and other media outlets, alleged that Crown, or its agents, affiliates or subsidiaries, engaged in money-laundering; breached gambling laws; and partnered with junket operators with links to drug traffickers, money launderers, human traffickers, and organised crime groups. 

A subsequent investigation was also launched in Victoria, which delivered its report and regional government response on October 26, 2021, as well as in Western Australia, where the Perth Casino Royal Commission is scheduled to hand-over its findings by March 4, 2022.

Steve McCann, CEO and managing director at Crown, explained: “With all areas of the hotel resort now complete, we have welcomed approximately 1,300 employees to Crown Sydney at a time when the hospitality industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic restrictions. This includes almost 420 employees to-date in gaming related roles.

“As you are aware gaming areas are yet to commence as we continue to work through the consultation process with ILGA. 

“We believe we have made good progress in implementing the reforms contained in our remediation plan, including those outlined in the Bergin report, and continue to work constructively with the independent monitor.

“We are in frequent discussion with ILGA, and whilst no official opening date has been confirmed by the regulator, we are currently targeting the gaming floor opening early in the new year.

“Whilst all gaming areas are complete, opening will be on a staged basis given current staffing levels, with further recruitment for gaming related roles required ahead of a full commencement of gaming operations.” 

Crown has previously reached an agreement with the ILGA in New South Wales to cease all international junket operations, while the company was able to retain its Melbourne casino licence, despite an investigation deeming the group to be “unsuitable” on the basis that it engaged in “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative” conduct.

Of the group’s culture transformation program, which has delivered a boardroom overhaul among other steps, McCann added: “A very important aspect of this program is ensuring we strengthen our risk culture, and that we also strengthen our approach to compliance to ensure that we are meeting the objectives and purpose of regulations and policies which we follow, rather than just meeting their requirements.

“And while we recognise cultural reform takes time to embed, I firmly believe that we have made very material progress in a short space of time to shift Crown’s culture. 

“Crown’s renewed leadership is driving a new tone from the top as we seek to embed this new culture throughout the organisation, and to guide the transformation we need a clear vision, a clear purpose, and a clear set of values that people understand and embrace as they go about their work.”