POWER SCORE: 921
POSITION LAST YEAR: 27
CLAIMS TO FAME
• Long-time confidante of James Packer
• Background as an Australian media powerbroker
Almost three years into his tenure as Executive Chairman of Crown Resorts, John Alexander hasn’t had much time to sit back and smell the roses.
Appointed to the top job in January 2017, much of Alexander’s focus since has been on restoring the company’s battered reputation after guiding it through the fallout from having 19 employees arrested – and 16 of them jailed – in mainland China in 2016.
But achieving that goal was made infinitely more difficult in July of this year following a series of explosive reports from three Australian media outlets alleging links between Crown and Asian crime syndicates and questioning the company’s relationship with junket operators. Although the content of those reports relied heavily on pushing highly tentative links and exhibited a basic misunderstanding of standard industry practices – particularly around how operators like Crown attract high rollers – the subsequent outcry from anti-gambling politicians ultimately saw regulators in both NSW and Victoria launch inquiries.
Those inquiries are ongoing, although they have already delayed completion of a deal between Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Crown’s biggest shareholder, James Packer, that would see Melco acquire a 19.99% stake in the Australian casino operator.
Assuming regulators give the green light, Crown will be hopeful of better days ahead in the premium space after seeing VIP turnover fall 26% to AU$38 billion in the 12 months to 30 June 2019. Melco’s investment comes with a promise to send some players Down Under, while the launch of Crown’s AU$2.2 billion Sydney casino in 2021 aims to provide them with an attractive place to play.
For the full list of 2019 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.