Sydney’s second casino is one step closer to opening its doors after the NSW government entered into a binding agreement for James Packer’s $1.5 billion development.
The third stage of the approval process for Mr Packer’s Crown Group project was signed off on Monday. The restricted gaming development will include a luxury six-star hotel and VIP-only casino at Barangaroo.
Premier Barry O’Farrell said legislation would be introduced into parliament this week to enable the casino’s approval.
“What we have agreed is to introduce legislation for a restricted gaming facility to be allowed to operate at Barangaroo south from November 2019,” he said.
Mr Packer, Crown Resorts chairman, said in a statement he was going to do everything he could to make Crown Sydney the best hotel in the world.
“I am humbled that we have reached formal agreement with the New South Wales government,” he said.
“We believe that Crown Sydney will help attract Asian high net worth travellers to Sydney, in particular from China, creating economic growth, extra taxes and over 1200 jobs for the people of New South Wales.”
A independent assessment committee assessed earlier this year Crown’s bid as well as plans Echo Entertainment, owner of Sydney’s existing casino The Star, put forward.
The committee – chaired by former banking chief David Murray – found Crown’s contribution to gross state product and tax was 26 per cent and 31 per cent larger than Echo’s respectively.
Mr O’Farrell said on Monday minimum bet standards would apply to Crown’s casino.
For baccarat, the minimum bet would be $30 but that equated to an hourly betting minimum of more than $2000, Mr O’Farrell said.
“This is as we said when approving stage two about the Asian-based high-range gaming market,” he said.
“It’s about high worth individuals. It’s about that tourism which Australia catches a very small part of and NSW is determined to be a bigger part.”
The government says at least $1 billion will be gained in the first 15 years from licence fees and gaming taxes.
Mr O’Farrell said statutory approvals were still needed from liquor and gaming authority and planning consent for construction, which would include public consultation.
But NSW Greens MP John Kaye said the approval process to date had been anything but independent and accountable.
“It is not surprising NSW is a step closer to another casino with all of the corruption risks, all of the gaming risks and all of the economic risks it brings with it,” he told AAP.
Sydney Business Chamber executive director Patricia Forsythe welcomed the announcement.
She said if the state was not attracting the high rollers there were plenty of other locations for them to go.