'Specific individuals' investigated in James Packer casino licence probe

Investigation: James Packer. Photo: Sahlan Hayes
Investigation: James Packer. Photo: Sahlan Hayes

Allegations against "specific individuals" were investigated by the NSW gaming regulator as part of its probity review of billionaire James Packer's application for a casino licence at Barangaroo.

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority says it examined the allegations and found there was "no cause for concern".

But it is refusing to disclose how many people were investigated or any detail about the claims against them.

On Tuesday the authority announced Mr Packer's company Crown Sydney had been granted a 99-year "restricted gaming licence" at his planned $1.3 billion resort at the Barangaroo harbourside development site, which will include a six-star hotel and luxury apartments.

The decision followed a six-month investigation into the suitability of Mr Packer, Crown Sydney and their "close associates" in Australia and internationally to hold a NSW casino licence.

The investigation examined their "character, honesty and integrity" and ability to manage a casino.

It also considered whether they have "any business association with any person, body or association who, in the opinion of the Authority, is not of good repute having regard to character, honesty and integrity or has undesirable or unsatisfactory financial sources".

The authority says three public submissions were made to its investigation.

"Three short submissions were received which referred to specific individuals," a spokesman said. "The issues raised were the subject of investigation and no cause for concern was found."

However, the authority says it would be inappropriate to release the submissions.

"It is not in the public interest that unsubstantiated allegations about individuals that were found to lack substance and breach personal privacy be released," the spokesman said.

Nor would it consider releasing details that did not risk identifying the individuals concerned.

The investigation was conducted by "senior officers" at the authority under the direction of chief executive Micheil Brodie and the authority's board, the spokesman said.

Under an agreement with the NSW government the casino will not have poker machines, be VIP-only and minimum bet limits will apply for key table games.

It can operate from November 15, 2019, after the expiry of the government's exclusivity deal with rival operator Echo Entertainment, owner of the Star.

Crown Sydney has agreed to pay the NSW government a $100 million licence fee as part of the deal, which guarantees tax payments of $1 billion to the state in the first 15 years of the casino's operation.

The company has yet to lodge a development application for the proposed Barangaroo resort.

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This story 'Specific individuals' investigated in James Packer casino licence probe first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.