Packer Sydney casino raises questions

Packer Sydney casino

THE government says James Packer’s exclusive high-rollers Sydney casino is a win for the city, but analysts and critics question whether the money will add up.
Premier Barry O’Farrell on Monday gave the nod to the Crown Group’s $1.3 billion development at the contentious Barangaroo site on Sydney Harbour.
Packer Sydney casino
Expected to be running from November 2019, Crown Sydney will include a casino open only to invited VIP gamblers and guests, with high minimum bets and no poker machines.
Although it is expected to have bipartisan support in NSW parliament, Independent Sydney MP Alex Greenwich urged the government not to rush through the legislation supporting the casino licence.
«This is not urgent legislation and the government should allow time for community consultation, input from crime experts, welfare organisations and the local community,» he said in a statement.
«Twenty-five dollar roulette tables do not attract high rolling ‘whales’ and the multi-player gaming terminals allowed are essentially dressed up poker machines.»
The agreement guarantees total licence fees and gaming tax payments of at least $1 billion to the NSW government over its first 15 years.
Mr Packer says the development will create jobs and draw international tourists to Sydney, particularly from Asia.
«When these people come they will spend money in Sydney and NSW … that will create jobs, that will create onspend and I think there will be a big economic benefit for everyone,» he told Macquarie Radio.
But independent Senator Nick Xenophon has questioned the claim the casino will be pitched towards Asian high-rollers.
«He will need to keep lowering the threshold and you will see more and more Sydneysiders taking money out of the local economy and spending it on James Packer’s new casino,» Senator Xenophon told ABC radio.
CBA Institutional Equities analyst Ben Brownette agreed it would be hard for Mr Packer to get a 10 per cent return on his investment without poker machines.
«The numbers I’ve run suggest that it’s going to be very difficult for Crown to make a reasonable return on capital out of outlaying $1.3 billion,» Mr Brownette said.
Mr Brownette said Crown had not been gifted anything by the NSW government, and was taking a very large risk on Barangaroo.
A day after the NSW government gave his casino the green light, Mr Packer announced he would donate $60 million over 10 years to Sydney’s art scene, a donation described by NSW Greens MP John Kaye as a «corporate promotion».
«Six million dollars a year is a trifle amount of money and will be rapidly consumed in the costs of dealing with yet more problem gambling and money laundering,» he told AAP.
The money will be split between western Sydney and the city’s cultural institutions, including the Sydney Theatre Company, which will receive $15 million, and the Art Gallery of NSW, which will get $10 million.
It is the largest pledge in the Art Gallery of NSW’s history, its director Dr Michael Brand said.
The injection also set records for the Sydney Theatre Company, with its director Patrick McIntyre saying it was the largest contribution the company has received.
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