Billionaire casino magnate James Packer had a surprising guest at his lavish New Year’s celebrations in the French Caribbean.
The Australian billionaire rang in the 2021 on board his $200million superyacht IJE, but docked right beside him was another mega-boat owned by Las Vegas casino juggernaut Sheldon Adelson.
The encounter has sparked rumours that Packer may be on the verge of selling his share in Crown to the American businessman with the newly-built Sydney casino yet to be granted a gaming license.
Billionaire casino magnate James Packer (pictured with former partner Maria Carey) had a surprising guest at his lavish New Year’s celebrations in the French Caribbean
The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Adelson’s 92-metre Queen Miri vessel had tender boats running back and forth as the celebrations went on.
Crown has already opened its new $2.4billion venue in Sydney in a soft launch – but without the VIP casino that was meant to be its centrepiece.
The luxury six-star hotel Crown Towers and a series of fine dining restaurants are open to the public from Monday at the Crown Sydney complex in Barangaroo.
Among the lavish eateries to open their doors this week include a Japanese restaurant owned by renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa, a Chinese-style tea house, and a high-end cocktail bar.
A 2,000sqm spa connected to the hotel is also available for bookings – complete with relaxation rooms, vitality pools and infrared saunas.
Notably absent from its offerings though is the ritzy casino for VIPs and high-rollers Crown had planned since the state government gave it the green light in 2013.
The Australian billionaire rang in the New Year on board his $200million superyacht IJE, but docked right beside him was another mega-boat owned by Las Vegas casino juggernaut Sheldon Adelson (pictured with partner)
The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Adelson’s 92-metre Queen Miri vessel (pictured) had tender boats running back and forth as the celebrations went on
The 275m-tall complex towering over the Sydney CBD has been under construction for four years.
An apartment in the Sydney resort starts at $9.5m for two bedrooms and two-bathrooms.
The new flagship Barangaroo facility was scheduled to open on December 14, but the NSW gaming regulator announced last month it was withholding approval for the casino.
The decision handed down by Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority chairman Phillip Crawford came after an explosive inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold Sydney’s second casino licence.
The inquiry aired allegations of money laundering through Crown accounts, corporate governance stuff-ups and involvement with organised crime.
The hearings ended in disaster for Crown when the gaming giant faced claims it had concealed vital information from the inquiry.
Pictured: The luxury six-star hotel Crown Towers at Sydney’s Crown Casino – which opened its doors to the public for the first time on Monday
Dining in style: The newly-opened venues include the Japanese restaurant Nobu – headed by renowned chef Nobu Matsuhisa
With the devastating setback, it has been speculated that Mr Packer will look to sell his 36 per cent stake in the casino.
According to Forbes magazine Mr Adelson – who operates casinos in the US, Macau and Singapore – is worth a staggering $US33.5 billion.
As well as the casino business, the two billionaires both share a close friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A spokesperson for Mr Packer has vehemently denied there was a meeting, telling Daily Mail Australia the reports are ‘gossip’.
‘There was no meeting between Mr Packer and Mr Adelson. It’s untrue,’ the spokesperson said.
While Crown awaits approval for its casino operations at the Barangaroo site, guests can sample a day out at a stylish Chinese-style teahouse
Luxury with a view: Pictured is a room inside Crown Towers. An opulent 2000sqm spa is connected to the hotel
The luxury spa comes complete with relaxation rooms, vitality pools and infrared saunas
Pictured is the lobby of Crown Towers. An apartment in the Sydney resort reportedly starts at a whopping $9.5m for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment
The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority said it will consider Crown’s gaming licence issue when inquiry commissioner Patricia Bergin reports back in February 2020.
In the meantime, the regulator has issued temporary liquor licences for Crown Sydney’s restaurants and other venues from December to April 30.
Crown will be required to re-apply from May 1 so that ILGA can consider any suitability concerns arising from the inquiry before granting an extension.
A review of Crown’s Victorian gaming licence has been brought forward after the revelations of the NSW inquiry.
Pictured is Silks restaurant within the Crown venue; the eatery promises to bring traditional Cantonese cuisine to Sydney
Celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa – who has opened Nobu (cuisine pictured) – has enlisted classically trained sushi chef Harold Hurtada to mix innovative new dishes with a Sydney take
Yoshii’s Omakase offers an intimate dining experience within a twelve-seat fine dining room
A dedicated commissioner will be appointed to run the Victorian-based review and findings will be reported to the Victorian government sometime next year.
In closing submissions to the NSW inquiry, Crown’s barrister Robert Craig SC admitted it was more likely than not that two of the company’s bank accounts were used for money laundering.
The Riverbank and Southbank accounts were a key focus of the inquiry after media reports alleged they were used to launder dirty cash.
Crown also admitted to shortcomings and mistakes in its anti-money laundering processes, but vowed it was cleaning up its act with a series of reforms, only some of which have come before its board.
Gaming regulators have forced Crown Resorts to delay the opening of a new $2.4billion casino in Sydney. Complex pictured under construction in March
The inquiry commissioner Patricia Bergin will make recommendations in February about whether Crown is suitable to run the casino (artist’s impression pictured)