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Packer Plan for WA Casino Approved

Tue, Dec 4, 7:48am by Ed Scimia

James Packer’s plans to expand his casino empire are starting to take shape. The Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia approved Crown’s plan to build a $568 million six-star casino on Burswood Peninsula – a hotel that would include extensive expansions of gaming facilities in order to underwrite the casino.

The plan will see an additional 500 pokies and 100 more table games added to the hotel complex, in addition to some gaming facilities that are already on the site. The new hotel – known as Crown Towers – will bring the complex up to 1,200 rooms, and will also feature new restaurants, bars, convention facilities and more.

The decision came after an assessment of exactly what the new facility would entail. According to the commission, the facility is not based entirely around gambling, which helped smooth over the approval process. In addition, WA has taken steps to avoid allowing pokies and other gambling option outside of Burswood, which they say has helped keep the level of problem gambling in the state lower than in Australia as a whole.

The announcement comes while Packer is still working on a deal with New South Wales in an attempt to push through his plan for a $1 billion hotel-casino complex in Sydney. Packer is said to be in negotiations with NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell over the plan, which would put the casino in Barangaroo. Packer has said that the only gambling activities at the Barangaroo site would be invitation-only tables for VIPs.

Packer is also looking to add a casino in Queensland as art of a redevelopment of the Brisbane waterfront, and Crown is looking to increase it stake in Echo Entertainment, the current operator of Sydney casinos. At the moment, Crown holds 10% of Echo, and it’s unclear how much of the company they would like to own. Gaming company Genting is also looking to increase their stake in Echo.

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