The Chairman of the New South Wales gaming regulator says it is possible that Crown Resorts could be granted permission to open its Sydney casino by the end of April.
Speaking with media on Wednesday to discuss the findings of the Bergin Report, which this week deemed Crown unsuitable to hold a NSW casino license, Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) head Philip Crawford said the ball was now in Crown’s court in regards to regaining suitability.
But he also made it clear the ILGA is ready to start negotiations, with late April – when Crown’s interim liquor licenses expire – established as an initial target date.
“You will recall the liquor licenses we granted for Barangaroo (the site of Crown Sydney where non-gaming outlets opened in December) expire at the end of April – and they do expire – so we’re all under the cosh,” Crawford said in response to questions over a possible opening timeline.
“We’re going to be working very hard with them and we want immediate change in some areas. I expect some areas will take a little bit longer but let’s have a dialogue and let’s see if [Crown] are cooperating.
“We can achieve a lot in a short time if we work together. I think they can [open by late April] but some [requirements] might take longer. Some things can’t be achieved overnight. It’s possible but there’s a lot to be done.”
Crawford said the ILGA has a “contractual obligation” to consult with Crown over recommendations contained within the Bergin Report around the makeup of the board, Anti-Money Laundering controls and the influence of James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH).
“They need to satisfy ILGA that they are suitable to hold that license so it’s going to be quite a process,” he said. “We’re going to start the dialogue fairly shortly with [Crown Chair] Helen Coonan.
“It needs a lot of change. They’ve got a lot of work to do to satisfy us.”
However, he also suggested Crown has “every prospect” of getting to suitability if it is willing to work with the regulator and said he was encouraged by Wednesday’s announcement that CPH representatives Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston had resigned from the Crown board.
“That’s great news, that means someone is listening to us,” he said.