The Eastern New South Wales gaming regulatory agencies are conducting an inquiry to determine if the local casino operator, Crown Casino Limited, has desecrated its license conditions. It has been claimed that Crown Casino has sold approximately 20 percent of its stake to its Asian partner, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited.
The New South Wales Liquor and Gaming Authority has commenced an investigation and announced that analysis will be conducted to find out if the settled deal has breached the license of the Crown Casino Operator. The inquiry is being headed by a former judge, Patricia Bergin. The judge will determine if Crown Casino or its subsidiary is not suitable to hold the Barangaroo license.
The Barangaroo casino is at stake for the Crown operator, which is under production and located near the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This project was suggested earlier in 2012 as a deal to attract international casino buffs to Australia.
Star, the competitor of Crown Casino that operated the existing casino in Sydney, will be keeping a close watch on this inquiry. Patricia Bergin will also find out if the licensing laws of New South Wales are suitable for the purpose in an environment where the risk of gaming and casinos is on the rise.
James Packer has sold approximately half of his stake to the Entertainment Company in Hong Kong. However, with the alleged inquiry, there has been a delay in transferring the remaining stake and it is awaiting the result of the NSW inquiry.
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The Investigation Conducted by Patricia Bergin
Patricia Bergin will examine the accusations published by magazines and newspapers. According to 60 Minutes, the leading current affair program, the affiliates, agents, and subsidiaries of Crown Casino have breached the gaming license and they are in alliance with operators who have links with money launderers, organized crime groups, drug traffickers, and human traffickers.
Bergin will also investigate if Hong Kong Casino Magnate, Lawrence Ho or other key partners who will become partners of the Crown Resort as a result of the deal have any business links with any other individuals, agencies, or authorities who have a negative reputation in respect to integrity, honesty, and character or they have objectionable or unacceptable monetary sources.
There is a provision in the Barangaroo license, which has banned the father of Lawrence Ho and a few other members of the Ho family from having any involvement with Barangaroo. Stanley Ho, the father of Lawrence Ho, has been suspected of having associations with crime mobs; however, he has always repudiated the accusation.
The ban list was undisclosed up to 8 August when it was listed in NSW parliament after demand from independent upper house MP Justin Field. He exposed the fact that Lawrence Ho is restricted from being involved in Barangaroo during the time he consented to purchase 20 percent of the stake of Crown Resort from James Packer.
The demand also raised concerns regarding Melco’s aptness to have links with this project because of its association with one more barred agency, Great Respect. Within a few hours of the document being disclosed, the NSW Government declared the investigation into the matter by Patricia Bergin.
The members of the Crown Resort have said that they are analyzing the current reference and will smoothly collaborate with the investigation. In the past, James Packer and Lawrence Ho held their $1.75 billion share transaction until it was sanctioned by three states in Australia.
Earlier in May 2019, Lawrence Ho of Melco’s group approved a payment o $1.75 billion for a 20 percent stake in Crown. It was agreed that the transaction would be done in two parts, the first in June and the second at the end of September. When the deal was disclosed, Lawrence Ho stated that it would not need any approval from regulatory bodies to be completed.
Nevertheless, the modified agreement now includes a condition that needs a letter from the concerned agencies in New South Wales. After this updated sale, Crown Resort has been disturbed by the accusation of association with money laundering, drug trafficking, and crime involvement.
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Crown Sydney Under Apprehension
Crown Sydney is situated on the harbour side of the Barangaroo district and the construction is still ongoing. It is predicted to start its setup in 2021. The company that is in charge of the Barangaroo casino is already famous for the Crown Perth facility, which is situated in Western Australia, and Crown Melbourne in Victoria. Players from all over the world visit these facilities to play roulette, table games, and other exciting casino games.
Crown Sydney will be the second legal casino in the state after ‘The Star.’ Opposed to its competitor, The Star, Crown Sydney will welcome only VIPs and high rollers. The building has about 75 floors and includes 350 expensive rooms and suites.
The facility is under threat after facing severe accusations long before its opening date because of the controversial agreement between James Packer and Lawrence Ho. One of the foremost concerns is whether Melco and its agents hold a good reputation regarding their honesty, morality, and character.