Simon McGrath join Crown
Crown Sydney is located at Barangaroo on the city's foreshore.

Funds manager Blackstone is one step closer to its goal of taking over Crown Resorts, after gaming authorities in NSW and Victoria approved its suitability to hold a casino licence.

The regulatory approvals follow a May 20 vote by Crown shareholders to accept Blackstone’s AU$8.9 billion takeover offer

Last year, an independent inquiry found Crown Resorts was “unfit” to hold a gaming licence for its Barangaroo casino after it heard allegations of money laundering and links to organised crime.

NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Chairperson Philip Crawford said Blackstone has undergone an extensive probity assessment to determine whether it could address concerns raised in the Bergin Report.

“The probity assessment has also resulted in certain persons being approved to become “close associates” of Crown Sydney,” Crawford said.

“These approvals are a key step in the Authority’s ongoing work to ensure Crown Sydney is able to fully meet its undertakings for major operational, governance and structural reforms.

“As the prospective owner of Crown Resorts, Blackstone has been required to demonstrate the highest standards of probity as well as a commitment to deliver the full suite of operational changes recommended by the Bergin Inquiry.

“This commitment is vital to ensure Crown Sydney is free from criminal influence and properly manages the risks of harm associated with casino activities.” 

Crawford said Blackstone has been required to meet certain conditions under a private equity model of ownership.

“These approvals and conditions are dependent on Blackstone gaining Federal Court approval for its takeover of Crown, as well as the necessary regulatory approvals from Victorian and Western Australia regulators,” he said. 

The gaming regulator said it has worked closely with Crown on plans for a conditional opening of gaming at Crown Sydney which would allow it to monitor practices and ensure Crown undertakes its obligations.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission has also approved Blackstone as a “suitable associate” of Crown’s Melbourne casino.

Blackstone will also need approval from Western Australia’s gaming regulator before the planned takeover can proceed.

If the takeover is approved by the Federal Court, Crown Resorts will become a private company under the Blackstone Group. As a result, it will cease public trading on the ASX and Founder James Packer will no longer be a shareholder.