The New South Wales gaming regulator has officially found Crown Resorts unsuitable to hold a state casino license for its AU$2.2 billion (US$1.7 billion) Crown Sydney development following a recommendation published last week in the Bergin Report.
The 751-page report from Commissioner Patricia Bergin was the result of a length inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a license amid allegations of money laundering in Crown’s casinos, and that it had breached its NSW license by agreeing to sell a 19.99% stake in the company to Macau casino operator Melco Resorts & Entertainment. The inquiry focused heavily on alleged ties by Crown’s junket partners to Asian crime syndicates as well as the 2016 arrests of Crown Resorts staff for the illegal promotion of gambling in mainland China.
According to an ASX announcement by Crown Resorts early Tuesday morning, the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) has now sent a letter to the Australian casino giant confirming that, under section 143 of the Casino Control Act 1992 (NSW), it presently considers Crown’s local subsidiary, Crown Sydney Gaming Pty Ltd, to no longer be a suitable person to give effect to its Restricted Gaming Licence.
It has also issued Crown Sydney Gaming with notice that the company has breached clause 14(a) of its VIP Gaming Management Agreement.
“ILGA has commenced the consultation process contemplated under the VIP GMA and has invited Crown Sydney Gaming to address ILGA in relation to its present view.,” Crown stated in its announcement.
The official finding that Crown is unsuitable comes as no great surprise, with Crown having already taken steps towards getting to suitability – most notably via a comprehensive boardroom makeover. That makeover has seen three directors – Guy Jalland, Michael Johnston and Andrew Demtriou – step down in the past week while CEO and Managing Director Ken Barton confirmed his resignation on Monday, with Chairman Helen Coonan becoming interim Executive Chairman at the same time.
On a positive note, the ILGA has stated Crown has “every prospect” of getting to suitability as long as it is willing to cooperate.