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Australian casino king James Packer defends Sydney casino bid process; Entering virgin territory

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Australian casino king James Packer defends Sydney casino bid process; Entering virgin territory

Australia's casino king has grand plans for another Sydney land based casino / hotel, but Media Man discovers that not quite everyone is as positive as Team Packer, but Australian news media and political types seem to be closely coming around to JP's line of business thinking...

The Media Man agency has another in depth report on the Australian casino, gaming, tourism and property wars.

Australian casino king James Packer defends Sydney casino bid process; Entering virgin territory...

Tycoon James Packer has defended the way he and the New South Wales Government have gone about securing a second Sydney casino at a new harbour-side development.

Recently the New South Wales Government gave a preliminary tick of approval for the casino-hotel proposal at the Barangaroo site.

The Government says any new casino will not be allowed to start operation until 2019 because of an exclusivity arrangement with Star Casino.

And the project will not go out to tender - although Mr Packer insists he would have won any tender had it been conducted.

Recently Packer told a business dinner in Sydney that he was not just interested in making money, but wanted to build something "special" on the site at Barangaroo.

"I spent a lot of time in casinos as a kid with my dad, and I ended up thinking, f***, this must be a good business," he said.

"My dad was a lot smarter than I am and a lot more successful than I'll ever be, but he got his adrenalin rushes from going to a casino.

"That's the customer that we want. And there are a lot people out there who can afford it, and who you're selling adrenalin to, and they're happy to pay for that experience."

Mr Packer and his gaming company Crown Limited are having an especially good run of luck.
He says the latest project has been given the preliminary tick not because of lobbying, but because it is a really good idea.

This is more than just about money for me. My dad was a larger-than-life figure and I think this is my chance to do something that is special.

"The Labor Party and the Liberal Party were prepared to look at this – or the Labor Party especially – in a bipartisan manner and Premier O'Farrell was willing to say 'let's just do it'," he said.

"There's three stages, and we've got to get through stages two and three ... Premier O'Farrell's made it very clear that we're not done and I don't think we're done, we're a long way from done, but we've had a very good day."

Mr Packer also defended his decision not to wait for a competitive tender process.

"The unsolicited proposal legislation was designed for good ideas and this is a good idea and we took advantage of the legislation that was in place," he said.

"So I think frankly if there was a tender it would be very hard to see how we wouldn't have won it."
So far, the gaming venue has been touted as one that would lure high rollers, especially international tourists, and it would not have pokies.

But Mr Packer says that could change.

"This is not an economic no-brainer," he said.

"You know, there has never been a casino in the world built for a billion dollars without slot machines.

"So we're entering virgin territory, and we're sitting there and saying we'll wait until 2019, as we should."

At the same time as promising to give Sydney an economic kickstart, he says he wants to be the one to leave a legacy in keeping with his father's.

"This is more than just about money for me," he said.

"I am a great believer in Sydney, this country has been incredibly kind to my family, this city has been incredibly kind to my family.

"My dad was a larger-than-life figure and I think this is my chance to do something, you know, that is special."

Build new casino over water says Paul Keating...

The new hotel and casino at Barangaroo should be built over the water so it becomes an iconic landmark, former prime minister Paul Keating said yesterday.

He called on Premier Barry O'Farrell to reverse his decision for the Barangaroo Hotel to be erected on solid ground, blaming it on "Clover Moore, Darling Island residents and The Sydney Morning Herald".

That decision had led to Barangaroo builders Lend Lease being given a bigger hotel which requires the city's second casino to fund it.

Mr Keating said the compensation was forced because Lend Lease already had a contract with the government to have a hotel on the water and Mr O'Farrell broke that contract. (Full story at The Daily Telegraph)

Packer rural estate added to licence pitch: report...

The Business Spectator reports...The Packer family's Ellerston country estate is be included as part of Crown Ltd's pitch to secure Sydney's second casino licence for its Barangaroo development, The Australian Financial Review reports.

According to the newspaper, Crown chairman James Packer said the inclusion of the New South Wales rural property, with its golf course and polo complex, would be a unique tourist offering.
“If we are successful with the project, Crown will attempt to build an airstrip at Ellerston and purchase brand new seaplanes to fly our guests from Rose Bay straight to the property,” Mr Packer said.

The news of the Ellerston complex's inclusion comes on the back of Mr Packer's comments that high-end attractions are vital to attracting visitors to Australian resorts.

Plenty of celebs but no Echo in Crown marquee (Fairfax Media)...

Melbourne newspaper The Age had nice and cheeky write up on the Crown Casino marquee at yesterday's Melboourne Cup. The article reads...

CBD at the Melbourne Cup

Crown Casino's marquee at the Melbourne Cup was just like chairman James Packer - small but perfectly formed.

The trim billionaire spent much of the afternoon deep in conversation with equally lithe bowler of maiden overs Shane Warne, who lends his name to a bar at Packer's Southbank sin pit.

While Packer's wife Erica was by the billionaire's side, there was no sign of Warne's fiancee, actress Liz Hurley.

Others in Crown's tent included ALP hardman turned Crown lobbyist Mark Arbib, and AFL boss Andrew Demetriou, with wife Symone.

While lacking in largeness, Crown's teepee was immaculately carpeted and featured plenty of deep-cushioned furniture, possibly to make sure there wasn't an Echo in the room.

Casino boss Rowen Craigie was keen to get to the mounting yard to check out his horse Sanagas, but he remained downbeat about the nag's chances.

''If it can run in the first six I will be delighted, realistically top 10.''

Sanagas came in 18th.


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