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Crown casino won't open until final inquiry report

Crown's planned opening of a newly built resort with a casino o worth $2.2 billion Australian in Barangaroo near Sydney will be delayed after regulator New South Wales (NSW) officially asked the casino operator to postpone the opening until at least February.

Delayed casino opening

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) asked the casino operator to delay the reopening until a full investigation report on the operator's ability to obtain a casino license is submitted. The regulator met Wednesday to hear Crown's final statements on why the reopening should remain intact.

Crown may have a casino license, but it needs other casino approvals such as liquor licenses, director credential checks and gaming area approval, all pending the investigating authority.

"We are hopeful that Crown Resorts will agree to our request to defer the opening of all gaming activities that could not commence without agreement to these regulatory issues."

Philip Crawford, President, ILGA

And while the ILGA would have no objection to the Crown opening a hotel and restaurant at the resort, granting permission to play would not come before the inquiry report in 2021.

"There is the possibility of litigation, but I don't think it's a good idea in this environment."

Philip Crawford, President, ILGA

The ILGA president went on to express his disappointment that Crown did not propose a delay itself, noting that his officials "don't choose the atmosphere." Ultimately, Crown agreed to delay the opening of the new casino resort and notified the exchange in a statement.

ILGA's official request came after recommendations from counsel assisting the investigation that the casino operator should be declared unfit to run the casino, in addition to the proposed removal of major shareholder James Packer and his influence on the board.

Former Judge Patricia Bergin, who is leading the investigation, is expected to deliver the final investigative report 1 February , and the regulator cannot assess evidence of the Crown's involvement in possible money laundering and dealing with trash linked to organized crime before that date.

Crown admitted to money laundering

On Wednesday morning, Crown dropped a bombshell on the investigation, admitting that her bank accounts were likely used to launder dirty cash, which Patricia Bergin said highlighted previous shortcomings in providing reports.

Admitting to money laundering places the narrative within a framework of criminality, perhaps drugs, child sexual exploitation, human trafficking and terrorist financing, he stressed Philip Crawford , expressing ILGA's concern.

"Any casino gaming activity before the results of the investigation are published in February 2021. And recognised by the authorities could pose an unacceptable risk to the community against the public interest."

Philip Crawford, President, ILGA

Following the ILGA decision, Crown issued a statement that outside of gambling, the casino portion of the resort would continue to work with the regulator on its planned opening in the absence of gaming activity.

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