Crown was forced to overhaul its board, management and procedures to satisfy the regulators, who approved a conditional license for Crown to operate its Barangaroo casino in June. The conditional license is valid until December 31, 2023.
The casino operator has since been bought out by US private equity giant Blackstone for $8.9 billion, with the deal removing Packer as a shareholder. Crown is still awaiting reassessment from the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority to see if it is suitable to hold an unconditional license for Barangaroo.
McGrath reiterated Crown’s claim that the gambling business was a vital component when it came to underpinning the economics of the resort and said Crown had already received significant interest in membership.
“The level of interest has exceeded our expectations in terms of membership,” he said.
“I think we’ll be at a pretty good pace relatively quickly. However, what’s important to us is that we do that in a very safe and responsible way.”
Crown has not said what its financial targets are for the casino operation and analysts no longer cover the company following the Blackstone takeover.
In December last year, Macquarie forecast that Barangaroo could end up with 35 per cent of Sydney’s tables-based gambling market by the 2025 financial year. This is expected to be worth $923 million. Macquarie forecast VIP turnover of $10 billion by 2025.
The more immediate focus for McGrath has been ramping up Barangaroo’s resort facilities following COVID-19 lockdowns and a period of recruitment.
“We were able to achieve certain ‘business as usual’ levels of employment by March, April, which has allowed us to operate without restriction the last few months. And that’s been important in setting up this next phase of our growth as well,” McGrath said.
“We’ve been we’ve been running very high occupancy levels, but also the restaurants and bars have [had] a very high take-up from patrons.”
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