Australia’s Crown Resorts says it will commence the operation of some non-gaming attractions at Crown Sydney from 28 December 2020 after the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) approved an interim liquor license on Wednesday.
The license, which applies to Crown Towers hotel, bars and some restaurants within the AU$2.2 billion development, is only valid until 30 April 2021 at which time Crown will be required to reapply. It will also give ILGA sufficient time – at least three months – to consider the findings of a recent inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a NSW casino license, due to be handed down by 1 February 2021.
Crown Sydney had originally been scheduled to open on 14 December but was put on hold last month after the regulator said it was unable to consider a range of essential regulatory applications on matters such as minimum bet limits, VIP membership policy, gaming area boundaries and “close associates” of the license holder while the findings of the inquiry were still pending.
In an update of its own on Wednesday, the ILGA said its position on Crown Sydney’s gaming operations has not changed.
However, it has fulfilled a promise to “work with Crown Resorts to enable opening this month of all non-gaming areas including accommodation, restaurants, bars and entertainment areas.”
The interim liquor license will allow Crown to serve alcohol at most resort areas while additional license applications for two restaurants are still under consideration.
Any extension of liquor licenses beyond 30 April will depend on the findings of the inquiry, which are expected to outline certain requirements and recommendations around compliance issues raised during the course of recent hearings.
As previously reported by Inside Asian Gaming, those recommendations could include anything from the payment of monetary fines to boardroom changes or even stipulations around the stake of Crown’s largest individual shareholder, James Packer. Packer currently holds 36% of the company’s issued share capital.
The company may also face an anxious wait in Victoria after the Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation (VCLGR) revealed Wednesday that it will bring forward the seventh review of Crown’s casino license to operate Crown Melbourne – the flagship property opened in 1995. The VCLGR said it will now report its finding to the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation in 2021 – just three years after completing its last review.