Anyway this will be an impressive development for Sydney.
James Packer's $1.4b Barangaroo casino given green light by
Barry O'Farrell by: JOHN LEHMANN and ANDREW CLENNELL
From: The Daily Telegraph July 05, 2013 12:00AM
Packer casino gets go ahead.
The NSW government has endorsed James Packer's plan to build a second casino in Sydney.
AN emotional James Packer has vowed to make his $1.4 billion Barangaroo high-rollers' resort "the best thing I've ever built" after winning his fierce battle over The Star to secure a second Sydney casino licence.
"I'm humbled by this opportunity in my home town," Mr Packer told The Daily Telegraph exclusively, moments after being told of the O'Farrell government's decision.
The billionaire was nervously pacing aboard his yacht Arctic P in Tahiti's Bora Bora when his business lieutenant Rowan Craigie telephoned with the news he had hoped to hear.
"I'm just very excited to be able to construct a building in Sydney which will be a drawcard for tourists the world over and become an architectural landmark in our region," the Crown executive chairman said.
The win ends a 19-year wait by the Packer family to enter the Sydney casino market after Mr Packer's father, Kerry, missed out on being awarded the city's first casino licence - to the Showboat-Leighton consortium in 1994.
Packer's celebrity pull helps casino win
Cabinet's unanimous decision was a crushing loss for The Star's owner, Echo Entertainment, with its shares diving almost 5 per cent just minutes before the announcement.
Premier Barry O'Farrell took a shot at The Star's performance, saying a key factor in the government's decision was a desire to inject competition because Sydney was battling to gain a decent slice of the rapidly expanding international VIP gaming market.
He said the government's assessment committee, led by former banker David Murray, "discovered that relative to Melbourne, we were underperforming in an area where there was $34 billion a year on offer".
The Star, which has been working hard to recover from a string of sex and drug scandals in recent years, will now face formidable competition from November 14, 2019, when its exclusive casino licence ends.
Mr Packer's Crown Ltd expects to pull in at least $1 billion a year in gaming revenue over its first decade in operation in Sydney, delivering to the government a total of $1.4 billion in tax revenue. Crown had offered to pay a $250 million up-front licence fee but the government elected to take a $100 million fee instead and impose higher gaming taxes.
Mr O'Farrell also expects Crown to lure tourism dollars, pump $442 million a year into the state economy by 2025 and employ 1250 people.
"I want this building to be instantly recognisable around the world and feature on postcards and memorabilia promoting Sydney - that's how you attract international tourists, create jobs and put Sydney on the map," Mr Packer said.
The widely expected decision means Crown will now proceed to the third and final stage of the government's unsolicited proposals process and will begin final negotiations. Under Crown's ambitious 70-month construction plan, a 250m-tall tower, draped in a white veil of sculptured glass, will rise above Sydney Harbour at Barangaroo by 2018.
The 70-floor resort will include 350 six-star hotel rooms, 80 luxury apartments, celebrity chef restaurants, at least 120 tables and 10 private VIP gaming saloons.
While Crown is banned from offering poker machines, it can install an unlimited number of multi-terminal gaming machines. Its overall gaming space will be restricted to 20,000sq m while smoking will be permitted throughout the resort.
Local punters will only be able to play if they fill out paperwork and are approved to join a Crown membership club.
A 24-hour cooling-off period will be enforced upon joining.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell annoucend that Crown has approval to move forward in the approval process to build a second casino in Sydney. Pictured in NSW Parliament House Sydney Picture: Greenhill Craig Source: The Daily Telegraph
Documents released yesterday show minimum bets will be imposed of $30 for baccarat, $20 for blackjack and $25 for roulette. These rates equate to a player betting between $1500 and $2100 an hour, the documents said.
As part of their visit to Sydney, Crown will also offer to helicopter its well-heeled customers to its luxurious Ellerston Day Retreat in the Hunter Valley and to the Perisher Ski Resort. Echo chairman John O'Neill issued a statement saying he was disappointed the government did not share the company's vision. In a bid to protect its exclusive licence, Echo had offered to spend $1.1 billion transforming its Pyrmont venue into a massive integrated resort, featuring two new luxury hotels.
Harbour City rolls the dice and wins
Mr Murray said he had been impressed with Echo's chief executive, John Redmond, and expected the company would further invest in Pyrmont.
Labor leader John Robertson did not commit the opposition yesterday to passing the required legislation through the NSW Upper House but has previously indicated he would move positively. Shooters MP Robert Brown said he believed his party would pass the laws.