Crown Resorts could be poised to open the gaming portion of its $2.2bn Crown Sydney Hotel Resort “in the next few weeks,” report local media outlets.
The property swung open its doors for the first time towards the end of 2020, however, gambling operations were suspended after an Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority investigation, led by former supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, deemed the company unfit to introduce the tower’s gaming floor.
The almost 800-page critique of Crown’s suitability, which itself followed allegations raised by a range of Australian media, 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 spokesperson from the ILGA released the following statement to 7News: “It is anticipated that the Authority may permit Crown to commence gaming on a conditional basis in the next few weeks.
“While the Authority has not changed its assessment that Crown is unsuitable to hold a restricted gaming licence until it has addressed the significant issues arising from the Bergin Inquiry, commencement of gaming on a conditional basis will contribute to assisting the Authority to assess Crown’s progress towards suitability.
“At this time, it is not possible to advise when a final determination regarding suitability will be made.”
This comes after Crown recently backed an A$8.9bn (US$6.3bn) takeover by Blackstone, with the group also asserting that it is working to “build momentum on our company-wide reforms” in a bid to advance “multiple regulatory processes”.
October 2021 also saw the company retain its Melbourne casino licence, despite a Victoria royal commission deeming the group to be “unsuitable” on the basis that it engaged in “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative” conduct.
In Western Australia, Crown is awaiting the publication of the concluded Perth casino royal commission, which is due by March 4, 2022, while the group’s Melbourne and Perth venues hold out for the outcome of an AUSTRAC inquiry for potentional breaches of anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws.