Friday, October 26, 2012

Crown advances S$1.3b Sydney casino plan

04:45 AM Oct 26, 2012

SYDNEY - Australia's New South Wales state said yesterday that casino operator Crown had passed the first stage of a government approval process to build a new A$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) hotel in Sydney containing VIP gambling facilities.

Crown's proposal is part of the new A$6 billion Barangaroo residential and commercial precinct in Sydney.

New South Wales currently has one gambling licence, held by Echo Entertainment, the owner of Sydney's The Star casino. There has been uncertainty as to whether the government will grant a second licence, but its early endorsement of Crown's development proposal indicates it will be open to doing so.

Crown, controlled by billionaire James Packer, wants to include the high-roller gambling facilities to better tap Asia's growing base of wealthy people. The NSW government said it would not allow slot machines to be part of the development.

Crown Chief Executive Rowen Craigie said: "Crown is proposing that VIP gaming would only be available for international high rollers, mainly from Asia, together with interstate and local VIP players on an invitation only basis."

The company said it needed the gambling facilities to make the entire hotel development commercially viable.

Crown has also amassed about 10 per cent of Echo's shares, and some analysts expect it to form a VIP joint venture with its rival if it cannot obtain a second gaming licence. DOW JONES

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