Decision on Packer casino due in March

The NSW gambling watchdog is set to decide within three months whether or not to grant James Packer a licence to build Sydney’s second casino.


The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) placed ads in newspapers on Wednesday, calling for public submissions on the suitability of billionaire Mr Packer, Crown and its associates to operate the proposed casino.

The planned $1.3 billion luxury resort and VIP-only casino at harbourside Barangaroo has bipartisan support from both the NSW government and Labor opposition but must still obtain ILGA and planning approval.

The state’s Casino Control Act requires that any holder of a casino licence has to be regarded by the ILGA as a “suitable person”.

However, Crown only recently had to pass those hurdles to get approval to boost its stake above 10 per cent in rival Echo Entertainment, which is the operator of Sydney’s existing casino, The Star.

Crown sold its Echo stake before winning approval from the NSW government to build the Barangaroo hotel-casino, in July.

The NSW government rejected Echo’s proposal to further develop The Star.

However, that approval process, which took 14 months, would assist in the current investigation, an ILGA spokesman told AAP.

He said the probity clearance was expected to be completed in March.

Shares in Crown, which is among the markets top 50 companies with a capitalisation of $12.3 billion, had jumped 34 cents, or more than 2.0 per cent, to $17.18 by 1530 AEDT.

The authority’s investigation would involve liaison with a large number of regulatory and enforcement agencies, both nationally and internationally, the ILGA ad said.

Crown’s core casino operations are in Australia and Macau. It also has interests in the United State and the UK, and plans to develop casinos in the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

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