Berejiklian seeks advice on Sydney casino | The Standard

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The opening of a new $2.2 billion Sydney casino is up in the air after an inquiry was told owner Crown Resorts is “not suitable” to hold the licence for the premises. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is seeking urgent advice on the matter and hasn’t ruled out pushing back the December opening date for the Barangaroo development. An inquiry by the state’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has heard the “damaging” influence of Crown’s major shareholder James Packer on the company was partly to blame. Closing submissions will continue on Thursday, with the commission at this stage expected to deliver a final report on February 1. Independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie, a long-time critic of the gambling industry, said licences for Crown’s casinos in Perth and Melbourne should be suspended. “If Crown is not fit and proper to hold a casino licence in NSW, how can Crown be trusted to run a casino anywhere in Australia?” Mr Wilkie said. Counsel assisting the inquiry Adam Bell said on Wednesday evidence heard during weeks of hearings meant Crown was “not suitable” to hold a licence for Barangaroo. The inquiry has examined money laundering at Crown casinos and its business ties with people linked to organised crime. Mr Bell said Crown’s conduct around the arrest of staff members in China in 2016 showed a failure of culture that still persisted. He said Crown had a “high appetite” for risk and the elevated dangers posed to staff under a Chinese gambling crackdown weren’t properly communicated to the board. “Compounding the problem is no one who presided over the disastrous failures can provide a coherent explanation about how or why they occurred,” he added. The inquiry examined whether Crown’s NSW licence was violated when Mr Packer’s private company Consolidate Press Holdings (CPH) attempted to sell 19.99 per cent of its stock to Melco Resorts last year. Melco was run by the son of since-deceased Macau gambling king Stanley Ho, with whom Crown was banned from associating by the NSW government. Mr Bell said a common theme in the China arrests and Melco transfer was the “deleterious impact” on the governance of Crown caused by its CPH and ultimately Mr Packer. “The adverse impact of CPH in compromising proper reporting lines of Crown Resorts was a factor leading to the China arrests,” he said. Australian Associated Press

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