Crown casino floors could become lifestyle centre for apartment owners

Crown Resort’s floors earmarked for its gaming business at the Barangaroo complex could be converted to a luxury lifestyle centre for the owners of the adjoining apartments if the licence to operate a casino is rejected.

There are three floors allocated for gambling within the sprawling $2 billion hotel and apartment complex at Barangaroo on Sydney’s waterfront. The area will consist of private rooms and gaming tables such as roulette and poker, aimed firmly at the high-roller sector, and will not have club-style poker machines.

Chris Johnson, the former NSW government architect, said it would seem that many of the apartments were expecting a casino, “so if that does not occur I think a luxury lifestyle centre mainly for the apartment owners plus for hotel guests could be a replacement”.

Crown was set to open the gaming floors of its $2.2 billion Barangaroo resort in late December but the NSW regulator blocked it from commencing gaming operations.
Crown was set to open the gaming floors of its $2.2 billion Barangaroo resort in late December but the NSW regulator blocked it from commencing gaming operations.Credit:Nick Moir

“This would be a number of floors of clubs, high end restaurants, boutique music venues, spas, international video connection rooms, mini conference spaces for networking and high end education for high end members of an exclusive club. Another floor could be a scaled down version for tourists and visitors,” Mr Johnson said.


Crown, of which James Packer is the largest shareholder with 36.8 per cent, was delivered a damning report from the inquiry into Crown Resorts led by retired judge Patricia Bergen, which said it was not fit to hold a gaming licence in Sydney after finding links to money laundering and organised crime.

Aside from the gaming floors, the complex has a large retail offering, available to the public as well as hotel guests and apartment owners. There are already 10 restaurants and bars and only limited retail on ground floor, leased by high-end jewellers Paspaley, Watches of Switzerland and car giant BMW.

The newly-opened Crown hotel is going strong with high occupancy as people opt for a ‘staycation’ at the new site given the current travel restrictions. There is an infinity pool for hotel guests that has become very popular, as have the restaurants.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, Crown last year paid $80 million to buy property developer Schiavello Group’s half-stake in the One Queensbridge project, which is currently on ice.

Property agents and developers contacted by the Herald all declined to be named, but said that they still believe the Barangaroo casino operations will go ahead once the owners satisfy the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s concerns.

One said: “my personal view is it will still be a casino and Crown may not be the operator of that part of it or have to license it out or make some concessions”.

Another senior leasing agent, who declined to be named, said one issue for apartment sales is buyers who may be attracted so they can go to the casino could be deterred if it is not available.

However, it is understood that 50 per cent of the residential complex has been sold with inquiries still holding strong, despite the impact of the global pandemic as well as the casino issue.

One agent in the residential sales sector said it is very hard to retro-fit office and mixed-use space into apartments due to issues such as venting/air conditioning and exhaust systems, plumbing for bathrooms/laundries and kitchen and sound-proofing walls.

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