Crown Casino reopens in Perth
Crown Casino Perth has spent much of the last week preparing for its full reopening, which took place on June 27.
Calvin Ayre reports that with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Western Australia, and with Victoria in the grips of a second wave of COVID cases and Crown’s Melbourne casino remaining closed, it is welcome news for the casino group.
A Crown spokeswoman confirmed the Perth property was ready to receive players last weekend, under new health and safety measures.
“Crown has worked closely with government and health authorities to ensure that our reopening was done in a safe manner for the community, and in compliance with all government mandates including physical distancing requirements and hygiene measures,” she said.
“The past few months have been challenging for many Western Australians, and we look forward to welcoming thousands of our employees back to work in coming weeks,” she added.
Casino operations are able to resume on the gaming floor, with health guidelines in place for food and beverage services.
Under the agreed guidelines with the Western Australian government, there will be a two-square metre rule for social distancing on the gaming floor.
Every second gaming machine will be switched off, and poker will have a maximum five player limit per table.
Given the spike in Victorians infections, the Perth property will be under pressure to ensure social distancing guidelines are followed.
Crown chief executive Ken Barton reaffirmed Crown’s commitment to social distancing.
“Crown’s priority is to the health and safety of our employees, customers and the community.
“The physical distancing and hygiene measures have been developed in consultation with the government, Commissioner of Police and Chief Health Officer to allow reopening in a safe manner.
“We look forward for welcoming back many of our employees and customers to Crown Perth.”
Western Australia has been relatively unscathed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with three active cases.
The state has remained cut-off from eastern Australia with hard border restrictions in place.
Phase three restrictions will mean the state will be allowing crowds of up to 30,000 sports events.
Crown Sydney’s pokies fate sealed
The New South Wales government has cemented the near term financial fate of James Packer’s Crown casino at Sydney’s Barangaroo, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The government inked a deal with rival The Star, confirming it as the exclusive casino rights operator of poker machines for the next 21 years.
Crown’s lobbying efforts to alter the terms of its existing agreement that would have banned pokies had been determined and abiding.
Over the year, the lobbying was spearheaded by Crown executive and former national secretary of the Labor Party Karl Bitar and former federal Labor minister Mark Arbib.
Government insiders have suggested that Crown came close to signing a memorandum of understanding a few years ago with then-NSW opposition leader Luke Foley to revisit Crown’s poker machine bid.
Under the government agreement signed with The Star, if the exclusivity deal is altered, the incumbent casino pokie operator will receive nonspecific compensation.
Many casino analysts had assumed a strong likelihood Crown would ultimately be successful in its quest to remove the slot ban.
The Star’s share price initially spiked more than four per cent Monday and the regulatory certainty on slots was one of the main reasons.
The partial reopening of Star’s Sydney casino complex on Monday and a new tax deal with the NSW government were the other two pieces of news that sent shares higher.
For Crown, having its poker machine ambitions thwarted places additional pressure on the economics of its Sydney casino, whose licence approval was originally successful on the basis that it would be an ultra VIP casino that would cater to Asian high rollers rather than the Australian market.