A new twist in the ongoing saga of a casino on the harbour at Barangaroo could see James Packer’s dream of opening a A$1bn hotel resort casino there not now being dependent on him taking a controlling stake in Echo Entertainment, the operator with the sole licence to operate in New South Wales.
Among the conditions met would be that the future casino would be table only, which would fit into Mr. Packer’s plans of attracting high-roller Asian players whose gaming habits focus on baccarat.
Backed by MP Reverend Fred Nile, the NSW Cabinet is poised to sign off the first stage of the proposal for Mr Packer’s six-star Crown Sydney Resort, granting the city’s second casino licence from late 2019.
Mr. Packer had planned to secure a controlling interest in Echo and then use their existence licence for The Star in Sydney to develop an annexe for that licence at Barangaroo.
Once planning approval is met, Crown could begin work next year on the Barangaroo site. Construction of the 350-room hotel would begin by 2015.
Christian Democrat MP Reverend Fred Nile said: “We need a firm guarantee there will be no poker machines, not one, now or in the future. We also want legislation protecting staff from passive smoking. Mr Packer has guaranteed he will do this but we want it to be part of the legislation. We will require the casino to support a chaplaincy on site.”
Upper house opposition leader Luke Foley said Labor would back the Crown proposal as long as it passed planning requirements and guaranteed no poker machines.
By 2018, the resort would include a Mahogany Room for high-rollers, which would remain closed until the NSW Government’s exclusivity agreement with Echo expires in November 2019.