The inquiry held by the New South Wales (NSW) Government into Crown Resorts’ Barangaroo casino licence is set to immediately resume with a smaller scope after Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts sells its 9.99% stake in the Australian casino company to Blackstone.
The probe that is led by Patricia Bergin, SC, on behalf of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, had suggested examining the relationship between Lawrence Ho and his father, late Stanley Ho, who had allegedly been linked to criminal organisations.
However, in April 2020, Melco Resorts revealed a decision to sell the stake it holds in the Australian gambling giant to Blackstone, a private equity giant. This basically means that the NSW authorities would no longer have to examine the links between the two companies or whether Melco’s associates are suitable for being associates of Crown Resorts under the provisions of the NSW gambling legislation.
The probe, which is set to proceed under the social distancing measures associated with the coronavirus infection, is set to check whether the sale of the 9.99% stake by Consolidated Press Holdings constituted a violation of the restricted gaming licence of Crown’s Barangaroo property to any other regulatory agreement. The Government of the state of NSW will also continue the inquiry into whether Crown Resorts is still a suitable person under the state’s casino legislation, and if not, what changes would have to be implemented to make it suitable for the purpose, and accusations that the Australian casino company violated gambling laws by joining forces with so-called junket operators with links to money launderers, human and drug traffickers, and organised crime groups.
Barangaroo Casino Licence Bans Any Involvement with Late Stanley Ho and His Associates
Crown Resorts, which currently operates casino venues in Perth and Melbourne, has been denying the allegations that it faced in July 2019 following some reports by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers.
The Barangaroo property licence forbids any involvement with Mr Stanley Ho and a list of his associates because of the alleged links of the Macau gambling tycoon to criminal organisations.
Both Mr Packer and a number of other executive officers at Crown Resorts are expected to be called before the inquiry to give evidence. The initial public hearings of the probe that started in February were focused on the history and regulation of the junket operators that brought high-roller customers to the casino venues of the Australian gambling company.
The next stages of the inquiry, however, were deferred by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority on April 6th, as most of the business community on the territory of Australia was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The exact schedule for the next rounds of public hearings is set to be released.