The interim Executive Chairman of Crown Resorts says she is confident the company will get to suitability and open the casino at its AU$2.2 billion Crown Sydney development.
Helen Coonan, who took on the role of interim Executive Chairman this week following the departure of CEO Ken Barton, provided an update on Crown’s discussions with New South Wales regulators during the company’s 1H21 (financial year ending 30 June 2021) earnings call on Thursday. Those discussions follow a finding of unsuitability to hold a state casino license in the wake of the recent Bergin inquiry and comments by Philip Crawford, Chairman of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), that Crown has a “lot of work to do” to get to suitability.
But Coonan expressed confidence on Thursday that Crown Sydney, which launched non-gaming operations on 28 December, would soon be granted permission to open its casino.
“We’ve moved very quickly to look at how we can meet the pathway that’s been outlined to give effect to the Barangaroo-restricted gaming license,” Coonan told analysts.
“There are quite a few moving parts but the commission has recommended changes that are largely within Crown’s control, and many of the changes were already in train as part of the reform agenda, which Crown has been proactively implementing to strengthen its governance and compliance processes.
“We’re working with ILGA very closely to clearly define what the remediation actions and measures for suitability will look like and what timing will be involved.”
Coonan was reluctant to provide an opening date, however she did note recent comments by Crawford pointing to late April as the expiration date of Crown Sydney’s temporary liquor licenses.
“Towards the end of April we might have a clearer idea on timing, and it might be that what we can agree will be remediated actions that we’ve taken, that are in prospects and ones that we’ve still got to undertake that we may be able to give enforceable undertakings to achieve the opening,” she said.
“We’re going to be working just as quickly as we can to meet whatever deadlines the authority requires so that they can have their proper processes. It’s ultimately up to ILGA to decide when they’re ready to approve the opening of the facility. But we will be, as I say, setting a cracking pace.”
Crown also revealed during Thursday’s earnings call that it has 450 casino employees in Sydney currently waiting for casino operations to begin. Some, it said, have been deployed to other areas of the property while others remain in ongoing training and preopening activities.