Operational Changes Amidst Low Visitor Numbers
Crown Sydney, which opened its doors in December 2020, has faced a consistent challenge in attracting enough visitors to maintain its expansive operations. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the casino was compelled to close one of its gaming floors just two months ago due to insufficient foot traffic. This reduction in visitors has led to the decision to cut 180 jobs and adjust the resort’s operating hours.
The new schedule will see the casino closed between 2 am and 10 am from Monday to Thursday, with extended hours over the weekend. These changes are indicative of a broader shift in Crown Sydney’s strategy as the resort grapples with the realities of a post-pandemic market, ongoing regulatory scrutiny, and the increasing popularity of online gambling.
The rise of online casino gambling platforms has provided a convenient and accessible alternative for gamblers, contributing to the decline in foot traffic at traditional brick-and-mortar casinos. This trend has been exacerbated by the pandemic, which accelerated the shift towards digital entertainment options, further impacting physical casino establishments like Crown Sydney.
Cumulative Job Cuts & Restructuring Efforts
Since its inception, Crown Sydney has seen a total of 275 job cuts, largely influenced by expensive costs stemming from anti-money laundering failings and other operational challenges. CEO Mark McWhinnie expressed the company’s commitment to supporting the impacted employees, emphasising efforts to redeploy staff to other Crown casinos in Perth and Melbourne.
Crown Sydney’s strategy has notably shifted focus from its original target of international high rollers, especially after its mahogany floor, designed for this elite clientele, was closed. The resort now operates with a reduced gaming capacity, catering to a different segment of the market.
Financial Struggles & Regulatory Hurdles
The casino’s financial performance has been under scrutiny, with Crown posting a $199 million loss in the previous year, although this marked an improvement from the near-$1 billion loss incurred during the COVID-19-affected year prior. The regulatory environment has also been challenging, with Crown Sydney and rival NSW casino operator Star Entertainment facing costly remediation following historic anti-money laundering failings.
Negotiations with NSW Government & Future Prospects
Crown is currently in talks with the NSW state government to renegotiate its tax arrangements, arguing that the changed economic and regulatory landscape has rendered the original agreement obsolete. The casino, which was initially pitched heavily to Chinese high rollers, is now focusing more on its luxury hotel and restaurants, following revelations of infiltration by international criminal syndicates and money launderers.
With a conditional licence valid until April 30, 2024, Crown Sydney is working to satisfy regulators and stabilise its operations amidst these significant changes. The future of this iconic establishment remains closely watched by industry analysts and stakeholders alik