Star Entertainment has inked a deal with the NSW government that blocks its soon-to-be rival Crown Resorts from installing poker machines at its new Sydney casino for the next 21 years.
The $2.8 billion group has also locked in a new, more favourable tax rate for gambling operations at its Pyrmont casino, which opened its doors to a limited number of patrons on Monday afternoon for the first time since March 23.
Star said the agreement with the NSW government means it will continue to operate the only casino in Sydney with poker machines, and that it will be paid compensation if Crown is allowed to install pokies at any point before June 30, 2041.
Despite denials from Crown, there has been constant industry speculation that the James Packer-backed group would seek to have the licence for its $2.2 billion “VIP” casino changed to permit poker machines at some point.
“We now have certainty that it won’t happen,” said Star chief executive Matt Bekier.
“[It] guarantees the operating environment for which we’re paying our taxes, and it de-risks our business for the next 21 years, which is a great thing.”
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age revealed last month that Crown was building relationships with some of Sydney’s largest clubs and RSLs as it faces the prospect of opening its Barangaroo casino in February while cut off from international high rollers.
The terms of the compensation clause were not made public. Crown declined to comment. NSW Treasury said in a statement, that “poker machines will not be operated at Crown Sydney at least for the duration of the agreement”.
“The agreement will allow long-term revenue certainty for the NSW Government and contribute billions of dollars to be directed to important projects,” the statement said.
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