SYDNEY, Nov 18 (Reuters) - An Australian state gambling
regulator said on Wednesday it was suspending the gaming licence
of casino giant Crown Resorts Ltd, citing money
laundering concerns, delaying the firm's plan to open a $1.6
billion resort in Sydney next month.
The New South Wales state Independent Liquor & Gaming
Authority (ILGA), which was to give a ruling on Crown's new
casino next February, said it made the unscheduled move after an
inquiry into the company received new evidence late on Tuesday.
"It looks like they've had some analysis done, and it looks
like it's positive that money laundering transactions have been
identified," ILGA Chair Philip Crawford told reporters.
"That gives us great concern. It means basically dealing
with the proceeds of crime. We're talking about potentially
drugs, we're talking about child sexual exploitation, we're
talking about sex trafficking, we're talking about financing
Crown said in a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange
it would open its Sydney location without gambling elements in
"Crown will continue to focus on opening the non-gaming
operations at Crown Sydney," the company said.
Crown, which has casinos in Melbourne and Perth, had planned
to open its Sydney waterfront resort in mid-December to
capitalise on the peak of the Australian summer holiday period.
At the inquiry, the company acknowledged the possibility of
money laundering taking place at another of its casinos. It has
also said it had cut ties with tour operators suspected of being
associated with launderers.
An inquiry into Crown was called after 2019 media reports
accused the firm of dealing with gambling tour operators with
links to organised crime to bring Chinese high rollers to
Crawford said the licence suspension would hold until the
regulator met in February to discuss a permanent response to the
inquiry's recommendations due late in January.
In the meantime, he said, ILGA was prepared to discuss a
limited opening of Crown's restaurants, bars and other
non-gambling operations in Sydney, but "without those approvals,
they won't be opening".
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Additional reporting by Colin
Packham; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Christopher Cushing)