The VIP rooms at Sydney’s Star casino will remain exempt from New South Wales’ tough anti-smoking laws after an amendment to have it included in the ban was voted down in the state’s parliament.
Billionaire James Packer, whose Melbourne-based Crown casino group owns a substantial stake in Star owner Echo Entertainment, had met with key crossbenchers from the Christian Democrats and Shooters Party to lobby against a push by the Labor and Greens parties to scrap the exemption.
Crown’s Melbourne and Burswood casinos and the Queensland casinos operated by Echo enjoy smoking exemptions in their private gaming areas, and the Sydney exemption is considered vital to Star’s continuing ability to attract Asian high-rollers. Losing it would also have damaged Packer’s plans to build a second luxury hotel and casino in Sydney targeting that same high-end market.
The NSW ban extends the state’s smoking prohibition to include playgrounds, public sports grounds, swimming pools, transport stops and entrances to public buildings. Smoking in outdoor dining areas will be included in 2015.