The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority has confirmed it will postpone the majority of works related to its public inquiry into Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s acquisition of a 9.99% stake in local casino operator Crown Resorts due to the impact of COVID-19.
The inquiry, launched last August and running since January, has been looking into a range of issues surrounding the transaction, including whether Crown remains a suitable person to retain its restricted gaming license for its AU$2.2 billion Crown Sydney development, due to open in 2021, and whether the disposal of shares to Melco Resorts constitutes a breach of the license or any other regulatory agreement.
Melco had originally planned to acquire a combined 19.99% stake in Crown held by James Packer’s CPH Crown Holdings via two separate tranches but cancelled the second tranche in early February citing a need to focus on its “core assets” as the coronavirus pandemic emerged.
On Friday, the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority said it “has decided that most of the work of the Casino Inquiry will be deferred in the current context of the COVID-19 epidemic, until it is considered safe and practicable for all public aspects of the work to resume.
“This decision follows careful consideration of the current COVID-19 situation, Commonwealth and State Government advice and restrictions.
“The Inquiry and its public hearings will resume promptly as soon as circumstances allow. Any updates regarding this and future timings will be announced publicly once determined.”
Crown said it would “continue to fully co-operate in relation to this inquiry.”