According to Iain McDonald of Bloomberg Businessweek, Crown Resorts Ltd. was granted final approval by the New South Wales government to develop a casino in Sydney’s Barangaroo precinct on Sydney Harbour – which will make it the second casino operator in the city alongside Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. and its casino The Star.
Crown Resorts Ltd. is controlled by billionaire James Packer, who is the company’s chairman and Australia’s second-richest individual with a $6.6 billion net worth according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (behind only iron-ore heiress Gina Rinehart). Crown's Melbourne property hosts the southern hemisphere’s largest poker tournament – the Aussie Millions – each year.
"I am humbled that we have reached formal agreement with the New South Wales government," Packer said in a statement. "We believe that Crown Sydney will help attract Asian high net worth travelers to Sydney, in particular from China, creating economic growth, extra taxes and over 1,200 jobs for the people of New South Wales."
The new Sydney gaming resort is expected to be operational beginning in November 2019 and will feature 350 hotel rooms and suites, 80 luxury apartments, restaurants and bars, and conference rooms. However, the agreement between the state and Crown requires that it be restricted to “VIP” clients, feature no low-limit bets, and offer no poker machines, or "pokie machines" as they're called in Australia.
"This is as we said when approving stage two about the Asian-based high-range gaming market," said New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell. "It's about high worth individuals. It's about that tourism which Australia catches a very small part of and NSW is determined to be a bigger part."
Crown Resorts Ltd., which has resorts in Melbourne and Perth, will be required to provide tax payments of at least A$1 billion ($938 million) in the first 15 years of operation. According to a government-appointed independent assessment committee earlier this year, the project is estimated to create 1,250 construction jobs and an increase in gross state product of A$442 million per annum by 2025.
"Sydney is one of the world’s great cities. It deserves one of the world’s great hotels,” Packer said. “I am going to do everything I can to try and make Crown Sydney the best hotel in the world.”
In early 2014, the poker world will have its eyes fixated on Crown Casino in Melbourne for the 2014 Aussie Millions. Starting on Thursday, Jan. 23 and running through Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, the series will feature 20 spectacular events.
Things will kick off with the AU$1,100 No-Limit Hold'em event that features three starting days. The widely popular AU$1,100 No-Limit Hold'em Accumulator event will also be on the schedule, along with the AU$25,000 Challenge, AU$100,000 Challenge and AU$250,000 Challenge. The largest tournament in the Southern Hemisphere — the AU$10,000 Aussie Millions Main Event — will takes place starting on Sunday, Feb. 2 and will run through Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014.
Last year, Mervin Chan took home the Main Event title and AU$1.6 million in first-place prize money after defeating a field of 629. The final table included such stars as Patrik Antonius, Dan Shak, David Yan and Jay Tan.
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*Lead photo courtesy of Crown Ltd. via Bloomberg.