NSW gaming regulator finds Blackstone 'suitable' to hold licence for Sydney casino
Corporate equity giant Blackstone is a step closer to its takeover of Crown Resorts after gaming regulators in NSW and Victoria ruled it was "suitable" to hold a casino licence.
- Blackstone is pursuing an $8.9 billion takeover of Crown Resorts
- The equity giant has been subjected to an extensive probity assessment
- Crown has been prevented from operating its Barangaroo casino
The approval means Blackstone has passed a crucial test in its bid to own and operate Crown's Sydney casino at Barangaroo.
NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Chairperson Philip Crawford said Blackstone had been subjected to an extensive probity assessment.
"The probity assessment has also resulted in certain persons being approved to become "close associates" of Crown Sydney," he said.
"As the prospective owner of Crown Resorts, Blackstone has been required to demonstrate the highest standards of probity as well as a commitment to deliver the full suite of operational changes recommended by the Bergin Inquiry.
"This commitment is vital to ensure Crown Sydney is free from criminal influence and properly manages the risks of harm associated with casino activities."
An independent inquiry into Crown Resorts last year found the company was "unfit" to hold a gaming licence for its casino at Barangaroo after it heard allegations of money laundering and links to organised crime syndicates.
The inquiry's Commissioner Patricia Bergin said the company needed to make sweeping changes to its culture and corporate governance structure if it wanted to be considered a suitable operator.
The decision meant Crown was prohibited from opening the casino at its $2.2 billion skyscraper at Sydney's Barangaroo but it was allowed to operate a hotel and restaurants in the building.
The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission has also approved the Blackstone Group as a "suitable associate" of Crown's Melbourne casino.
Blackstone still requires the green light from the Western Australian gaming regulator before it can proceed with its $8.9 billion takeover of Crown Resorts.
If the takeover gets approval from the Federal Court, Crown Resorts will become a private company under the Blackstone Group and will cease being a publicly listed company on the ASX.
It means James Packer will no longer be a shareholder in the company, which he founded.
Mr Packer is in line to receive a $3.26 billion payday for his 37 per cent stake in Crown when the sale does go through.
The Blackstone Group is an international private equity giant which, according to its website, holds $915 billion worth of assets.
The company owns the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay and Bellagio hotels and casinos in Las Vegas.
It also owns Spanish company Cirsa, which operates 147 casinos in Spain, Italy and Latin America.
Crown Resorts has yet to get approval to hold a gaming licence for its Sydney casino at Barangaroo.
The ABC understands state cabinet will consider whether the licence will be granted when it meets later this month.