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Australia – Sydney’s gaming future to be decided on July 4

By - 1 July 2013

The battle over VIP gamblers in Sydney is set to come to a climatic conclusion on July 4 with a cabinet meeting called to cast a final decision on whether Crown Resorts will get the green light for its $1.5bn Barangaroo project or whether The Star will maintain its monopoly along with the approval to construct a $1.1bn resort upgrade.

The two Australian operators have both presented projects in recent months as they both look to lure more Asian VIP casino spend to Sydney.

David Murray, the head of the panel giving advice to the Premier’s office, hinted that the matter was close to conclusion. Australia media outlets believe that James Packer’s Crown is in the driving seat due mainly to the fact that Premier Barry O’Farrell has spoken appreciatively about Mr. Packer’s Barangaroo project.

Mr. O’Farrell has publically stated several times that a decision on Barangaroo would be reached by the end of June.

Perhaps having recognised this last week, Echo Entertainment offered up a compromise deal whereby both projects could go ahead with Echo’s blessing as long as the Barangaroo development was restricted to VIPs. The proposal presented by Echo Entertainment Chairman John O’Neill was rejected.

Mr. O’Neill presented Echo’s expansion plans for its existing The Star, informing that it would require a total investment spend of more than $1.1bn with 93 per cent in non-gaming, tourism related infrastructure. Echo said it would pay $250m to the NSW Government for the extended licence.

Approval of the project would see the development of two new international hotels, a six star and a five star, with more than 500 new rooms: bringing the total number of rooms at The Star to 1,150. It would boast more than 50 world-class restaurants and bars, including over 20 brand new experiences and contribute $130m to community infrastructure including the “City Link” pedestrian/cycle bridge and an upgraded light rail station to transform transport options for 10 million Sydneysider trips a year.

The design for Crown Resorts’ iconic proposal for a VIP hotel and casino at Barangaroo meanwhile was finalised a few weeks ago too with British architects Wilkinson Eyre coming out on top.

The white, sculptured glass tower would rise 250m above Sydney Harbour, and has already been described as Sydney’s most recognisable building since the Opera House was completed 40 years ago.

The hotel resort is expected to comprise 350 rooms of which 20 per cent will be suites and will incorporate VIP gaming similar to those operating at Crown’s resorts in Melbourne and Perth.

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