With the growing demand for casino gaming, Australia is keeping up with the rise of luxury integrated resorts and is set to establish their second casino in the city of Sydney this year. The AU$2 billion project will inevitably change the overall state of the country’s gaming operations after the company successfully gained a carefully delivered gaming license negotiated within a span of three years.
Not only set to rival the harbour city’s leading destination the Star Sydney, the newest waterfront establishment is also designed to frame the views of Sydney Harbour’s icons standing at a 275-metre-high. The defining landmark reminiscent of three intertwined petals pointing towards the sky was stylishly designed by award-winning British architecture firm Wilkinson Eyre and will cater not only to gamblers but to tourists and guests alike.
Significance of the Project
The establishment of the Crown Sydney complex located in the stylish Barangaroo district is a big step for the iconic Australian city.
A multi-billion-dollar project, the development is built “to redefine luxury as the newest sanctuary in the city” and become a pinnacle of modern design. It was built to become a leading tourist destination and attract a wide range of guests while adding something different to the classic harbour skyline.
Together with rival The Star at Pyrmont, Crown has likewise guaranteed to grow Sydney’s total gaming market and the government tax revenue from the industry. As casino licenses are not given lightly in Australia, the controversial development on the Sydney waterfront agreed to a restricted license that meant it would cater to VIPs mainly. Under the terms of Crown’s gaming license, it was also agreed upon that the casino must pay $1 billion in taxes and fees to the government throughout the course of the first 15 years of its operations.
Key Figures of the Crown Development
Crown Sydney will feature a 5-star hotel hosting a total of 349 guest rooms and suites along with its signature restaurants and bars, luxury retail outlets and lavish pool and spa facilities. Premium gaming areas set to have around 120 gaming tables when it opens later this year and VIP gaming facilities will also be available in Crown’s members-only casino. Bets of between $20 and $30 will be the standard minimum which casino industry experts note is on-par with general recreational gambling.
The complex also boasts of high class apartments located on the upper floors of the building. Homeowners at Crown Residences One Bangaroo are set to move in during the first half of 2021. The fascinating tower, which can be evidently seen all across the city, is fitted to have an astonishing 50 different types of marble and stone used throughout the building, 50 custom made crystal light installations and a multitude of greenery, altogether bringing indulgence and sophistication for its clientele. 1,800 pieces of artwork, majority of which are made by local artists will also be showcased throughout the development, adding great design to an already captivating facade.
“When complete, the transformation of Barangaroo from a disused industrial site to world-class urbanisation precinct will deliver to the people of NSW a once-in-a-generation integrated residential, office, entertainment, transport and leisure destination,” Lendlease Group CEO and Managing Director Steve McCann says.
Construction Progress and Target Completion Date
The tallest building in Sydney, despite complications brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, is scheduled to attain completion by the end of 2020. After four years of construction, the awaited project is finally finalizing its build, employing more than 1,300 people to continue working on the interiors throughout the remainder of the year.
In a recent site visit by the NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet alongside Crown’s Chair Helen Coonan, CEO Ken Barton, Executive Vice President Todd Nisbet and Lendlease CEO and Managing Director Steve McCann, the building’s vertical milestone was shortly celebrated amidst public health restrictions. Crown CEO Ken Barton relayed that they were celebrating the start of a new future following unprecedented challenges for the community.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has presented Crown with many challenges and has required us to make some difficult decisions,” Barton said in a statement.
“We are grateful for the NSW government’s decision to keep the construction industry open. Not only has this supported over 1,300 jobs at our site at a time of great economic uncertainty, it also keeps us on track to provide over 2,000 more jobs when we open.”
The resort and casino tower’s lavish and intricate design was safely delivered by more than 4 million hours of work during its construction and installation phase. More than 237,000 tonnes of concrete and 20,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement and steel structure were put in place to bring the luxurious development to life.
“[Crown] has always been a destination designed for both Sydneysiders and visitors alike. We are looking forward to opening our doors later this year and playing our part to help boost the domestic travel and tourism economy,” Barton added.
Gaming Offered in the Casino: VIP Gaming – no Pokies
While Crown Sydney will open its doors for local players, the casino is ultimately targeting VIP gamblers to bring in a chunk of their revenue.
In 2013, Crown‘s then chairman James Packer revealed that about half of Barangaroo‘s earnings is expected to come from its premium players. Crown’s flagship Melbourne property received a steady influx of Chinese high rollers in the past years but circumstances have changed and the said revenue stream may not be as reliable at present. The coronavirus pandemic which prompted the government to halt arrivals from mainland China in January and limit international travel more broadly in March may also raise more questions about the viability of Crown Sydney’s anticipated VIP business.
In addition to regular gaming, Star Entertainment, Crown Sydney’s major competitor holds exclusivity to operate casino pokies (Australian poker slot machines) for the next 21 years.
Should the NSW government allow Crown to install pokies at its property at any point before June 30, 2041, Star would be paid an undisclosed amount of financial compensation. The Star group has also locked in a more favorable tax rate for gambling operations at its Pyrmont casino under the new agreement.
“[It] guarantees the operating environment for which we’re paying our taxes, and it de-risks our business for the next 21 years, which is a great thing,” said Star chief executive Matt Bekier.
Along with major plans of building a grand casino comes multiple issues concerning social and financial aspects that may unavoidably be raised as time goes on.
Due to past events, Crown’s brand has been tainted from dealing with high-roller clients from Mainland China through illegal means. In 2016, around 19 Crown sales staff were taken from their homes for questioning and was subsequently jailed for breaking the Chinese gambling law.
Aside from the prohibition of sale and promotion of gambling services in China, Crown was suspected of assisting these VIP players to smuggle millions of dollars outside of the country. Informants like Jenny Jiang, revealed to the Chinese government of how they were tasked to convince high-rollers to travel to Australia instead of Macau
Recent reports also suspect Crown’s association with the casino junket industry to be tolerating issues such as money laundering and has come under scrutiny from local media. Additionally, the company’s Sydney gaming license is currently subject to a public investigation by NSW government authorities. Given the speculations and history of the global brand, Crown may certainly expect some damages to its international high-roller business.
Alliance for Gambling Reform Chief Advocate Tim Costello said he had concerns that Crown Sydney would try to lure general punters rather than just the VIP or high-end table gamers.
Mr. Barton on the other hand, informed analysts a few months ago that the Barangaroo business would “obviously look a lot better if we were able to open with international travel being allowed,” but given the case, the casino would still have access to the local and interstate “premium tables” market.
Moreover, the social cost of increasing gambling offerings may promote gaming addiction for Australian locals themselves. Statistically, it has been recorded that over 80% of Australian adults engage in gambling of some kind, which is the highest rate of gambling in the world.
Gambling addiction remains to be a significant public health issue in the country as Australians rank the highest in losing the most money based on per capita spending; more than AU$ 1,200 (~US$ 920) per year.