Independent MP Justin Field making efforts to prevent NSW from compensating Crown Resorts

Independent MP Justin Field making efforts to prevent NSW from compensating Crown Resorts

New South Wales (NSW) Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Justin Field and others want to ensure that Crown Resorts Limited, Australia's largest gaming company which is being probed for its alleged links to alleged links to organized crime, shouldn’t get any sort of compensation if its casino license is revoked.

Crown’s inner working has been under investigation by the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) since the summer last year. The regulatory body is trying to determine if casino giant has any sort of links to organized crime. The company has also been accused of facilitating money laundering.

In worst-case scenario, if Crown Resorts is found guilty of aforementioned alleged crimes, its casino license could be revoked. However, when Crown signed its development deal years ago in 2014 with then-NSW Premier Mike Baird, the contract stipulated that the state would compensate the company “by up to 10.5 times of any negative financial impact” caused by any sort of revision to its casino license.

It means Crown could receive billions of dollars if it is found unsuitable in Sydney. It may be noted here that Crown is nearing completion on its AUD$2 billion (USD1.44bn) IR casino project in Sydney.

MP Field is now making an effort to ensure that regardless of the outcome of the ongoing license suitability inquiry, taxpayers’ money should not be used to compensate the casino operator for any potential damages. To protect NSW taxpayers’ money, the independent MP has introduced a measure to the NSW Legislative Council that aims to prevent the state from providing Crown with any kind of compensation in case its license is revoked. The MP declared that any compensation claim by Crown would be “outrageous” as it would undermine the public interest.

Speaking on the topic, Field said, “The agreement between Crown and the government suggests any action taken as a result of this inquiry to prevent organized crime and money laundering at a future Barangaroo casino could trigger a compensation claim by Crown. That’s outrageous.”

Attorneys for the ILGA have recommended that Crown founder James Packer should not be allowed to have any close association with the company. While Packer has already removed himself from the company’s governance, he continues to hold a significant (36%) stake in the company.

The casino license suitability inquiry is being headed by retired NSW Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin. At present, the Inquiry is receiving recommendations pertaining to the case. Once the recommendations are entertained, it will be up to Judge Bergin to decide the final outcome.