Online gambling news in Australia report that Crown Ltd. will have the chance to open a casino in the country in 2019.
Crown boss James Packer has been planning to operate a casino for years in Sydney, capital of New South Wales state. He expressed his strong interest to a $1b hotel-casino in the Barangaroo redevelopment area in the Sydney Harbor. However, Echo Entertainment’s Star Casino holds a monopoly license for casinos in Sydney until 2019 and they are not willing to give it up.
Packer had earlier gained support from the ruling New South Wales Liberal party and the NSW Premier and Minister for Western Sydney Barry O’Farrell. But state Labor party, a strong force to be reckoned with, has been opposing Packer’s plan. Now it seems that the labor politicians finally agreed to back Packer as long as certain conditions are met.
The number one point is securing Echo monopoly until 2019 in order to avoid a hefty compensation to be paid by the NSW state. Crown will not be allowed to install any video poker machines on the premises. No reason is given for this decision, maybe a labor MP might lost some money on video poker in the past?
Anyway, Crown casino will focus on the Asian VIP gamblers, who do not fancy video poker or even poker in general but favor baccarat. Clearly, Packer wants to compete with top Asian gambling destinations such as Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and the emerging Philippines.
The Labor party also demanded “a fair rate of return for the state”, an expression that can be interpreted in any way they wish, leaving room for further negotiations.
The O’Farrell’s cabinet is expected to have a final say on Monday. There are voices in the NSW state who say that a second casino license should be a subject for public tender. However, NSW gambling laws and state regulations for tenders allow a bit of play, stating that a tender might be omitted if Crown demonstrated that its project offers a “unique service.”