Australia's Crown Resorts Ltd was not an "eligible person" to hold a gaming license for its Sydney casino, according to a report commissioned by a regulator on Monday. However, the casino giant could become compliant if it makes changes.
Crown obtained a $ 2.2 billion (US $ 1.70 billion) gaming license for a casino tower in Sydney a few years ago. However, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) suspended the license pending media reports on how companies deal with organized crime groups. Retired Judge Patricia Bergin's report received a "no" answer when asked if the company was deemed an "Eligible Person" to hold a gaming license.
Bergin added, however, that Crown could undertake a "transition to fitness" process that would require restructuring of its board of directors. "If Crown is to survive this turmoil and transform itself into a company that can be considered a suitable person, there is little doubt that it could make a fresh start and produce a much stronger and better organization," Bergin wrote in the report.
Bergin recommended a limit of 10% for casino stakes in the state without special approval, a limit well below the 35.9% stake held by Crown's largest shareholder, James Packer. The New South Wales State ILGA began a 2019 review of the complex's gaming license for media articles on Crown's Melbourne Casino alleging the company knowingly dealt with organized crime groups and turned a blind eye to money laundering.
Crown initially denied the reports in full-page newspaper ads. However, company executives who testified in the ILGA investigation recognized the possibility of money laundering at Melbourne Casino. The company has pinned its future growth to the 75-story tower complex, which is Sydney's tallest and will house a hotel, retail stores, restaurants, bars and residential accommodation in addition to the proposed casino. The company pushed ahead with the opening of the tower in December to impress tourists with expansive harbor views, despite Australia's borders remaining closed due to COVID-19.
($ 1 = 1.2943 Australian dollars)
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