Crown Resorts chief executive Steve McCann says the casino operator’s massive remediation efforts have produced possibly the best gaming environment in the world as it prepares for the approval of its casino licence at Sydney’s Barangaroo.
“We are very close,” he said of work with the regulator and NSW government to get approval for its casino licence.
“But what I think is more important is that we can really assure the government, the regulators, but also the community in general, that this will be the best gambling environment – certainly in the country – and probably in the world.”
Crown’s casino licence for Barangaroo was suspended in late 2020 amid the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s damning public inquiry into its operations, which found Crown was unfit to operate.
The inquiry’s report, released in February last year, found Crown needed a management overhaul if it ever wanted to hold a casino licence, and the state’s gambling regulator should reconsider James Packer’s involvement.
McCann did not hide what he saw as the big mistake made by casinos globally in going after the “low-hanging fruit” of Chinese gamblers without considering the risks being taken to attract that market.
“I think one of the biggest mistakes the industry has made, and this is not an Australian specific issue, is going after the low-hanging fruit without having regard to the issues that that was going to give rise to,” he said.
“There’s no doubt that as a country, we had a pretty poor grasp of what the financial crime rules, issues, regulations were.”
The state government is expected to sign off on a strict conditional licence for the gambling giant later this month.
The proposed licence is expected initially to be for a two-year period and the agreement would also give Crown suitor Blackstone the green light to acquire the business for $8.9 billion.
It will allow Packer to exit the business more than a decade after he started the process of winning Crown a gaming licence for a luxury hotel it proposed to build at Barangaroo to attract Chinese high rollers.
The recent inquiry called on NSW to establish the Independent Casino Commission, a “dedicated, stand-alone, specialist casino regulator with the necessary framework to meet the extant and emerging risks for gaming and casinos”.
In August last year, NSW cabinet agreed to the new casino body and the government is now working on legislation to establish it.
On Friday, Crown Resorts posted job advertisements for its gaming team in preparation for the licence being granted, as well as for a general manager for its Barangaroo casino.
McCann said on Wednesday that Crown had about 1900 vacancies to fill across its operations in Australia. Crown said this includes 500 vacancies at Barangaroo which will rise to 700 once the gaming operation is licensed.