Australian casino magnate James Packer has finally won approval from the New South Wales government to build a luxury casino near Sydney Harbor. It will be designed to appeal to high rollers, particularly gamblers from Asia, who have not yet patronized the Australian market.
Packer’s rival for the casino license was Echo Entertainment, which owns Sydney’s only existing casino, the Star. Echo, which had proposed a $1 billion expansion of its own property, will retain exclusive rights to casino gaming in the state until 2019.
“We are disappointed that the New South Wales government does not share our vision,” said Echo Chairman John O’Neill in a statement. He added that the company will explore “other initiatives” to expand or upgrade its existing Star property.
The rival companies have also locked horns over a license in Brisbane, which should be awarded after the state budget is finalized in July. According to the Australia Financial Review, Echo Entertainment is the favorite to win that battle. Its partner in the venture is the Hong Kong-based Far East Consortium and Chinese conglomerate Chow Tai Fook. The team will work together to develop a casino, hotel and residential project at Brisbane’s Queen’s Wharf.
Back in Sydney, Packer plans a “six-star,” $1.4 billion property at the Barangaroo development across the harbor from the Star. The resort will feature 350 rooms and suites and 80 luxury apartments.