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Crown’s Sydney casino under court challenge by community

Wed, Nov 16, 5:16pm by Staff Writer

The battle between the local community and Crown Resorts over the building of Sydney’s second casino at Barangaroo is far from over with a key court case this week to determine whether the project can proceed as planned.

Construction of the casino, which is expected to open in 2020, has already begun, but an inner city community group, Millers Point Fund Inc, is arguing in the Land and Environment Court that the NSW Planning Commission had acted illegally in handing over a site allocated to a foreshore park to James Packer’s Crown Resorts.

Crown Resorts, Barangaroo developer Lendlease, the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, which owns the site, and NSW planning minister Rob Stokes are represented at the case.

The Planning Commission stands accused of failing to defend the space for public use as was approved in 2007, after it was confirmed in June that the public space was being moved to another location nearby.

“The commission misunderstood its powers and failed to have an open mind to make a decision,” Environmental Defender’s Office chief executive Sue Higginson said.

“It misconstrued the act and therefore the decision [to award the park to Crown] has to fall.”

The $2 billion 6-star hotel and casino is being built on the water’s edge on Sydney Harbour.

Crown plans for the casino to be a VIP-only venue, and it has not applied for a licence for general use gambling, such as poker machines.

There will be 350 hotel rooms and luxury apartments across 71 storeys.

The case is expected to conclude this week, with a successful finding for the community group likely to lead to a halt in construction.

It would be another blow for Crown’s plans in Sydney after concerns recently emerged that its potential VIP market could collapse in light of a Chinese government crackdown on marketing activities by casino and resorts.

Eighteen Crown Resorts staff, including three senior Australian executives, were detained in October over ‘gambling offences’, which are believed to involved the marketing of Crown’s services to Chinese VIPs. Only one of the staff have been freed on bail.

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