The US private equity firm Blackstone has gotten a bit closer to completing its planned acquisition of Crown Resorts after it was tagged as suitable to hold a casino licence by gambling regulators in the states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW).
The regulatory approval basically means that Blackstone has managed to pass an important step toward the completion of its bid to own and operate the Barangaroo casino of Crown Resorts.
According to the chair of the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA), Philip Crawford, the US private equity operator had faced extensive probity checks and assessments in order for certain persons to be approved to become close associates to the Sydney casino of the Australian gambling giant. Mr Crawford further explained that as the prospective owner of Crown Resorts, Blackstone had to prove the highest standards of probity. The company has also been required to make a commitment to the full suite of operational changes that Commissioner Bergin recommended in her review of Crown Resorts.
As Casino Guardian previously reported, an independent probe into Crown Resorts was held in 2021. As a result, the Australian gambling giant was found unsuitable to hold its Barangaroo casino licence, with the company facing allegations of facilitating money laundering and having links to organised crime syndicates. The investigation found that the gambling operator would have to make sweeping changes to its corporate governance structure and culture if it was willing to be considered a suitable operator.
James Packer to Cease Being Crown Resorts’ Investor Once the Blackstone Deal Is Finalised
The findings of Commissioner Bergin’s review prevented Crown Resorts from operating the Crown Sydney casino in its AU$2.2-billion waterfront skyscraper at Barangaroo. Still, the company was given the chance to operate the non-gambling services in the resort, including a hotel and a number of luxurious restaurants.
In addition, Crown Resorts has yet to receive approval to hold an operating permit for its Barangaroo casino in Sydney, which could happen by the end of the month if the competent authorities find it suitable to do so.
Blackstone Group also managed to win the favour of the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC), which approved it as a suitable associate of Crown Melbourne.
The US private equity firm still has to get the nod of the gambling regulatory body of Western Australia before it is officially allowed to proceed with its AU$8.9-billion takeover of the Australian gambling giant. If the acquisition deal gets the green light from the Federal Court, Crown Resorts will be consumed by Blackstone Group and will transform into a private company. This would eliminate James Packer as a shareholder in the gambling operator he once established. Mr Packer is expected to get an AU$3.26-billion payment in return for his 37% stake in Crown Resorts when the takeover deal is finalised.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.