James Packer wins the jackpot after green light given for Crown Casino in Sydney

imagesBILLIONAIRE James Packer has been given the green light by the NSW Government to develop Sydney’s second casino at Barangaroo.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced his government conditionally accepted the proposal for a Crown Casino, after receiving unsolicited proposals from Crown Limited and Echo Entertainment.

“An independent steering committee, chaired by former chair of the Future Fund David Murray AO, was appointed to assess both proposals, with the assistance of Deloitte Access Economics, to ensure rigorous and comprehensive appraisal of each.”

“The committee was supported by the Hon Ken Handley QC, a retired judge of the NSW Court of Appeal, who provided probity supervision and advice.

The agreement to progress the Crown Limited proposal comes with an upfront licence fee of $100 million and other additional conditions:
· Non-rebate gaming to be taxed at 29% (including GST and the responsible gaming levy) not 27.5% as proposed by Crown;
· The total of licence fee and gaming tax payments to NSW over the first 15 years of full operation must exceed $1 billion (nominal), a guarantee Crown proposed for its alternate option;
· Licence fee and tax would be independently reviewed after 20 years of operation, having regard to market conditions, financial viability and competitiveness, and the licensee earning a fair return on capital. Timing for the review of both casinos will be aligned and include licensee consultation; and,
· Local VIP membership criteria must include a 24 hour cooling off period for applicants who cannot demonstrate a track record of VIP gaming at other casinos, rules to ensure that guests are bona fide, and regular reviews of members’ gaming to ensure they should remain as members.

The independent steering committee found a competitive casino market would deliver increased tourism and broader economic benefits for NSW.

Mr Murray’s assessment found Sydney was falling short of its potential share of the growing international gaming and tourism market and has underperformed compared with Melbourne.

The economic assessment observes that Crown’s contribution to Gross State Product and tax are 26% higher and 31% larger than Echo’s respectively.

It found the Crown project would result in an estimated 1,250 additional jobs after construction, increased international tourism and an increase in Gross State Product of $442 million per annum in 2025.

The NSW Government reiterated the Crown proposal would not be permitted to  include poker machines and no low limit bets on table games.

The Crown proposal will cater for VIP gaming only. VIP gaming as proposed by Crown means a casino with no poker machines, no low bet tables and members only requirements.

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