NSW Gaming Regulator considers Blackstone “eligible” to hold a license for the Sydney casino


Corporate equity giant Blackstone has come a step closer to acquiring Crown Resorts after gaming regulators in NSW and Victoria ruled it was “suitable” to hold a casino licence.

The approval means Blackstone has passed a crucial test in its bid to own and operate Crown’s Sydney Casino in Barangaroo.

NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming chairman Philip Crawford said Blackstone had been subjected to an extensive probity review.

“The probity check has also resulted in certain individuals being granted approval to become ‘close associates’ of Crown Sydney,” he said.

“As the prospective owner of Crown Resorts, Blackstone has been required to demonstrate the highest standards of good faith and to commit to implementing the full range of operational changes recommended by the Bergin Inquiry.

“This engagement is vital to ensure Crown Sydney is free from criminal influence and properly manages the risks of harm associated with casino activities.”

An independent investigation by Crown Resorts last year found that the company was “unfit” to hold a gaming license for its Barangaroo casino after hearing allegations of money laundering and links to organized crime syndicates.

The commissioner of the investigation, Patricia Bergin, said the company must fundamentally change its culture and corporate governance structure if it is to be considered a suitable operator.

The decision meant Crown was banned from opening the casino in its $2.2 billion skyscraper in Sydney’s Barangaroo, but it was allowed to operate a hotel and restaurants in the building.

James Packer would no longer be a Crown shareholder.(AAP: Tracey Nearmy)

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission has also approved the Blackstone Group as an “eligible partner” to Crown Casino in Melbourne.

Blackstone still needs the green light from Western Australia’s gaming regulator before proceeding with its $8.9 billion acquisition of Crown Resorts.

If the acquisition is approved by federal court, Crown Resorts will become a private company of the Blackstone Group and cease to be a public company on the ASX.

This means that James Packer will no longer be a shareholder in the company he founded.

Mr. Packer is in line to receive a $3.26 billion payday on his 37 percent stake in Crown when the sale closes.

The Blackstone Group is an international private equity giant that has assets worth $915 billion, according to its website.

The Company owns the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and Bellagio hotels and casinos in Las Vegas.

It also owns the Spanish company Cirsa, which operates 147 casinos in Spain, Italy and Latin America.

Crown Resorts has yet to receive approval to hold a gaming license for its Sydney Casino in Barangaroo.

The ABC understands the state cabinet will consider whether to grant the license when it meets later this month.

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