‘No more pokies allowed’: Australian official rejects slot machine expansion at Crown casino

  • Permission denied for more ‘pokies’ at Australian Crown casino
  • China arrests of Crown employees affects VIP casino model
  • Local government resistant to allowing casino to open to ‘everyday users’

According to Australia’s ABC News 24, plans submitted by Crown Resorts to put more slot machines, known locally as pokies, in their Sydney Bangaroo casino has been rejected by the local government.

Bangaroo Casino Pokies
Slot machines for ‘everyday users’ were not part of the Bangaroo casino’s original permit. Picture: Thinkstock

The company, headed by casino mogul James Packer, wished to put machines inside the Sydney Bangaroo Crown casino’s VIP rooms.

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian rejected the plans, in keeping with the policy of former Premier Mike Baird, who permitted a VIP-only casino in the Bangaroo hotel and entertainment complex.

China arrests affect casino plans

When the VIP casino was first put forth by Crown, the chain was building a business model around a high-roller only experience, aiming to attract wealthy players from China. However, this model has since backfired due to the arrest of Crown’s vice president of international VIPs, Jason O’Connor, along with other employees, in China last year. Only one staff member of 15 detained has been released. They face charges relating to gambling offences – promoting gambling abroad is illegal in mainland China.

These arrests hamper Crown’s ability to attract the Chinese high rollers they targeted for the Bangaroo casino. Pokie machines would make the resort more accessible to everyday users, but that was not part of the original permit.

Policy has not changed

Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s refusal to allow the pokies falls in line with these original plans.
“The policy hasn’t changed. That’s a VIP room,” Berejiklian said in ABC’s Four Corners program.

Chris Sidoti, the former chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, criticised this stance. He said, “I don’t think there was an appetite for thorough scrutiny, I think there was a wish simply to get the job done in terms of having some basic level of examination and doing the deal.”

Berejiklian replied: “I respect [the rights of] anyone with experience to express their views but there was a very thorough process. I’m convinced that the process was robust, in the strictest of probity and I look forward to seeing the site further develop.”

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