Sydney’s struggling Crown Casino has shut down one of its two gaming floors and axed up to 95 jobs just a year after it opened to huge controversy.
The casino, which was the brain child of former chairman and majority shareholder James Packer, was built as a VIP-only facility to suit international gambling high-rollers, with no poker machines and a minimum bet of $20.
To gain access to its exclusive “mahogany” gaming floor, complete with 30 private salons, members needed to rack up a minimum spend of $45,000 across the venue’s bars, restaurants and hotels.
But, just a year after it opened, Crown Casino has announced that floor will be shut down.
Crown Resorts confirmed on Thursday the mahogany floor will be closed until business levels stabilise. Its customers will now be restricted to the 160 tables and 66 electronic tables on the “crystal” floor instead.
“Crown has made a decision to consolidate its two VIP casino floors in Sydney in response to the current macroeconomic challenges facing our industry alongside other Australian businesses,” a spokesperson told Nine newspapers.
“Unfortunately, this decision will impact some of our team members, and we are working with them and their union to consult on their options in the hopes of placing as many people as possible in other roles. Our priority is to support our people through this process, and manage these changes with care and respect.”
Staff were told a voluntary redundancy program will be rolled out for affected workers, some of whom will be offered the option to relocate to Crown’s casinos in Perth and Melbourne or fill open positions in Sydney.
The casino became embroiled in controversy before it even opened, after a 60 Minutes investigation found it had been infiltrated by international criminal syndicates and money launderers.
Since then, government inquiries in three states where Crown’s casinos operate have ruled it unfit to hold a casino licence. Crown was forced to overhaul its board, management and procedures before being granted a conditional licence. The conditional licence is valid until December 31.
The company is now preparing to pay one of the biggest financial penalties in Australian corporate history, with the Federal Court imposing a $450 million fine after finding Crown failed to guard against money laundering and terrorism financing at its Melbourne and Perth casinos.