Blackstone: Big Investments Planned for Crown Melbourne

Now that Blackstone’s acquisition of Crown Resorts is complete, firm President Jon Gray recently confirmed to the Australian that his company plans to invest heavily in renovations and improvements for Crown Melbourne (l.).

Blackstone: Big Investments Planned for Crown Melbourne

In a recent interview with the Australian, Jon Gray, president of U.S.-based investment firm Blackstone, confirmed that major renovations and upgrades are coming to Crown Melbourne in the near future.

Blackstone acquired the casino’s parent company Crown Resorts for US$6.5 billion last year, amid a flurry of regulatory violations for the operator.

Gray told the Australian that Crown Melbourne “is a physical turnaround story and our objective would be to invest significant capital there and enhance the asset, which we think will be great for the community and great for tourism there as well.”

Over the course of the last 18 or so months, Crown was deemed unsuitable to hold its casino licenses in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia—however, the operator was given two-year remediation periods to return to suitability, and those efforts are currently ongoing.

Additionally, the company also recently agreed to a $294 million settlement with the country’s federal financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC, which is the largest penalty ever for an Australian casino operator.

Regarding these recent troubles, Gray told the Australian, “We want to be a best-in-class entertainment company and hotel business. We understand that there was a lot that wasn’t done right and we’ve got to come in here and operate at the highest standard, the highest standard from a compliance standpoint, but then make them as attractive as possible to customers.”

One of the reasons for Gray’s confidence in turning around the mammoth property involves the story of the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Blackstone first purchased the casino for $1.7 billion in 2014 and eventually sold the operations to MGM Resorts International for $5.7 billion in 2022. The transaction was one of the most successful gaming investments in history.

“If you went back to that (Cosmopolitan) story, it was a company that had been built, foreclosed on and had a number of staff issues and needed capital to complete it,” Gray told the Australian. “And we went in, we brought in a lot of capital and hardware, but then software in terms of restaurants and entertainment, a great management team.”

“It’s a new day at Crown,” Gray concluded. “That’s what we want to convey to people – we’re committed to operating this business at the highest standard possible and ultimately, we want tourists to come back in a big way.”