The government of New South Wales has given its preliminary approval to a second resort-scale casino in Australia’s largest city, provided it doesn’t offer slot machines.
James Packer’s vision for a $1 billion casino and hotel complex at the Barangaroo waterfront redevelopment complex in Sydney was cleared to move to the next stage of the approval process following an endorsement from the cabinet of Liberal Party Premier Barry O’Farrell.
The approval was obtained after intense lobbying by Packer’s Crown Limited of government, the opposition Labor Party and cross-bench MPs. The breakthrough came when Labor gave its support, which is conditioned, Labor MP Luke Foley said, on “limited, high-end, VIP gaming” and no “pokies,” as machine games are popularly called.
“We need high-end accommodation; there’s a chronic shortage for Sydney,” Foley said. “And we think that whether it’s Crown or any other company, a proposal for a six-star hotel for Sydney must be seriously considered by government.”
The cabinet’s endorsement means the project will enter stage two of a three-stage process under which Crown and the government will enter into a participation agreement and prepare a detailed proposal. It also means Crown would no longer need to increase its stake in Star casino owner Echo Entertainment to use its monopoly license to operate a casino in Sydney.
Crown and Barangaroo developer Lend Lease could begin exploration and remedial work at the site as early as next year.