Crown licenses could be scrutinized

Crown’s local casino licenses may be reviewed should any of its staff under arrest in China be convicted of an offence, says the former head of the NSW gaming regulator.

In a report from ABC’s Four Corners, Chris Sidoti, former chair of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, said any convictions of Crown’s staff “would place an authority like a regulatory body in Australia on notice and require further inquiries to be made”.

Crown currently holds licenses for its properties in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Sidoti said action by the regulators could range from caution, all the way to removing a license.

The 17 staff taken into custody in China are currently still under arrest and awaiting trial.

“The Chinese investigation is ongoing and could continue for over a year,” said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in response to questions from The Australian Financial Review in January.

Inquiry lacking

The former chairman also spoke on the ABC program about the operator’s controversial Barangaroo casino, which he alleges saw “inadequate” and “superficial” parliamentary scrutiny before being approved for its license. 

“There was no public tender process and there was no inquiry at any stage, a public inquiry, as to the public benefit involved in this,” said Sidoti.

“I don’t think there was an appetite for thorough scrutiny. I think there was a wish simply to get the job done in terms of having some basic level of examination and doing the deal.”

Share buy-back

In other news, Crown Resorts has announced a proposed on-market share buy-back of its ordinary shares. The amount of the proposed buy back is approximately A$500 million (US$379.8 million), which represents around 42.9 million shares, or 5.9 percent of issued capital.

It intends to commence the share buy-back on or after March 20, 2017.