Crown Sydney to start with about 160 tables

By Noah Taylor Updated
Crown Barangaroo set to open by the end of March

Crown Resorts’ new Sydney casino will initially open with about 160 tables, according to JP Morgan Australia analyst Don Carducci.

Asia Gaming Brief reports that the thoughts are in line with commentary from Crown Resorts executives during an investor call, stating that Crown Sydney’s gaming space is allowed to expand up to 20,000 square metres, though current floor space utilisation is “materially less than 50 per cent of what we’re capable of,” noting that there’s an empty floor that is set up for gaming.

Carducci said based on its estimate of current table per square metres, using up the rest of the available space will add around A$100 million in additional annual table revenue, if demand remains consistent.

Crown Resorts said it is hoping to launch gaming operations at its Sydney casino in early 2022.

High rollers banned after due diligence tests

The casino operator has banned one out of every 10 of its Australian-based high rollers subjected to due diligence reviews because they could not explain where their money came from or raised other probity concerns.

The purge of big spending gamblers comes as the $6 billion group tries to clean up its operations and save its casino licences in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth following revelations of criminal infiltration, money laundering and irresponsible gambling policies.

Crown’s incoming chief executive Steve McCann said the company was “preparing for a range of possible outcomes” from royal commissions examining its licences in Victoria and Western Australia, including suspension or cancellation.

“We will consider all options to maximise shareholder value in the context of however the regulatory environment plays out,” Mr McCann said, including looking at any future takeover offers.

“Crown has three of the best integrated resorts in the world. I’m sure there will be people looking with interest at how things play out.”

Blackstone’s third bid for Crown is rejected

A third takeover offer from private equity group Blackstone has been rejected by Crown Resorts.

The $12.50 per share bid received a fortnight ago “does not represent compelling value for Crown shareholders.”

The casino giant will however open its books to the company in the hope it will increase its $8.46 billion bid.

“However, the Crown Board has offered Blackstone the opportunity to access non-public information to allow Blackstone to undertake initial due diligence inquiries on a non-exclusive basis so that it can formulate a revised proposal that adequately reflects the value of Crown,” the company said in an ASX statement.

Crown has also denied Blackstone an exclusive look at its books, leaving the door open for other suitors, such as Sydney casino outfit The Star Entertainment Group, to lob rival bids.

The New York-headquartered Blackstone already owns 10 per cent of Crown and has been courting the scandal-plagued casino operator for months.

It lobbed its first takeover bid at $11.85 per share in March and increased that to $12.35 in May, but Crown said both were too low.

Crown shares were trading just below $10 before Blackstone’s latest offer was revealed in November.

While previous offers were rebuffed, Blackstone is now dealing with a different leadership team at Crown following former executive chairman Helen Coonan’s departure amid damning revelations in Victoria’s royal commission into Crown.

Former Telstra and Optus boss Ziggy Switkowski officially took over as chairman last Wednesday after receiving clearance from state gambling regulators, joining former Lendlease boss Steve McCann who joined the company in June.

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