Crown instructed to delay opening of new casino

By Peter Lynch

Crown Resorts has been urged to delay the opening of its new casino in Sydney by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA).

The regulator has instructed Crown to delay the opening of the $2.2bn property in Barangaroo, which was scheduled to open on 14 December.

Crown is currently subject to a lengthy inquiry, after it was reported that criminal gangs had laundered cash at its casinos, with Chinese authorities also convicting members of its staff of illegally promoting gambling back in 2016.

Trading in the operator’s shares was suspended on Wednesday as the ILGA announced that the granting of a licence for the casino should be pushed back until the findings of the inquiry are released.

Patricia Bergin, the retired judge heading the inquiry, is due to issue her report in February 2021.

“The authority has found ongoing evidence before the Bergin Inquiry to be extremely concerning and that any gaming activity at the casino before the inquiry's findings are released in February 2021 and considered by the Authority would pose unacceptable risks on the community against the public interest,” said ILGA chair Philip Crawford.

“In light of this, we did not consider it appropriate to determine the applications before the authority until the findings of the Bergin Inquiry.”

Earlier this week, Crown announced that it will stop dealing with all junket operators in a bid to persuade the ILGA that it is fit to run the new casino.

And that announcement came after the company’s legal representative James Young, QC, had argued that the operator’s previous failings should not disqualify it from being granted the licence.

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