Tue, Apr 30, 12:59pm by Kevin Pitstock
James Packer, owner of a controlling interest in Crown Limited, has agreed to invest a reported $350 million to build a new casino property in Colombo, Sri Lanka. When the Crown Colombo opens in 2016, the resort will be 36 stories tall. This is the latest effort by James Packer to expand into the world market for gaming.
Crown Limited is a gaming and tourism corporation based out of Southbank in Melbourne, Australia. The company owns 100% of the Crown Melbourne Entertainment Complex and the Crown Perth Entertainment Complex. The publicly-owned company also owns 50% of the Aspinalls casinos, 50% of the Betfair Australasian Pty Ltd, 34% of the Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, a minority stake in the Cannery Casino Resorts out of Nevada and Western Pennsylvanian in the United States, and Aspers Holding Limited out of the UK.
James Packer is the son of late media tycoon, Kerry Packer (1937-2005), and he is the grandson of Sir Frank Packer (1906-1974), who owned Australian Consolidated Press and the Nine Network. Consolidated Press divested its gaming interests to Crown Limited in 2007. When that entity tried to enter the Las Vegas gaming market in 2008, it had the misfortune of making that attempt at time of the 2008 economic meltdown on Wall Street. In the subsequent economic write-down, investors withdrew $800 million in investments in the Fontainebleu Resorts, which caused grave financial difficulties for the corporation.
The venture in Sri Lanka is a sign of increased vigour and confidence on the part of Mr. Packer and associates. The younger Mr Packer, who at $6 billion is considered the third richest man in Australia, cashed out his family’s broadcasting and publishing investments in 2012.
When the government of Sri Lanka suggested a big investment downtown, James Packer decided to take them up on the offer, despite some analysts expecting a dive into the Southeast Asian economy. But with increased Chinese investment in Sri Lanka and a large gambling population in nearby India, the Crown Casino could become the next major success in the Packer family’s storied history.
James Packer’s Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd is planning to build a $1 billion casino resort in the Philippines. This casino is in partnership with Henry Sy, the wealthiest man in the Philippines.
Sri Lanka began allowing casinos in their country in the 1980’s. Since then, nine different casino resorts have been built in Sri Lanka.
The other properties include MGM Club, Bally’s Colombo, the Continental Club, The Ritz Club, Tokyo Club, The Star Dust, and Bellagio Casino, all in Colombo. Bellagio Club is not owned by the MGM Grand, as the famous Bellagio in Las Vegas is. Sri Lanka’s only other gambling property is Kollupitiya Casino in that resort’s namesake city, Kollupitiya.
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