No Ho: New South Wales Tells Crown

New South Wales and Crown Resorts have released censored details of a report on the licensing of the company’s luxury Crown Sydney casino. The report requires that Crown guarantee it has no ties to Macau gaming tycoon Stanley Ho (l.). It’s a concern for regulators, given Ho’s alleged links to organized crime, because Crown and Ho’s son Lawrence are partners in Macau.

Crown Resorts’ Macau operations have led New South Wales authorities to insist that the company’s Crown Sydney megaresort implement specific measures to ensure that controversial Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho is never involved in the project.

The state’s concerns are detailed in previously censored documents released to the NSW parliament relating to the government’s approval of Crown Resorts’ license to operate the A$1.2 billion casino hotel, slated to open in 2019 at the Barangaroo waterfront district on Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

Ho, who ran a casino monopoly in Macau for 40 years, has long been accused of having ties with triad criminal gangs, including through junkets used to attract high rollers to the Chinese gambling hub.

His son, Lawrence Ho, is Crown’s partner in Melco Crown Entertainment, a Macau casino operator with plans to expand across Asia and the United States.

The agreement between the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and Crown contains a section entitled “Prevention of Associations with Stanley Ho” in which it is stated that Crown will “ensure that it prevents any new business activities or transactions of a material nature” between Ho or his associates and “Crown, any of Crown’s officers, directors or employees or any Crown subsidiary”.

Greens MP John Kaye said the disclosure “is an admission that the Barangaroo casino will pose a real threat to NSW”.

“For the first time there is a public admission that the government and the regulator knew that the state would be at risk of organized crime and corruption penetration through Crown’s new casino,” he said.

The documents were released to lawmakers despite attempts by Crown, the ILGA and the Department of Premier and Cabinet to keep them secret.

Kaye won support in the state Senate for an unredacted version of the agreement to be made available to MPs, and an independent arbiter ruled it should be made public.

A Crown spokesman said a number of gambling regulators require it to report on dealings with “entities or persons known to be associated with Stanley Ho” and said, “Crown complies with those obligations and has no dealings or business relationships with Stanley Ho or entities controlled by him.”

Ho’s links to organized crime have troubled gambling regulators in various jurisdictions for years, and in 2006, he resigned as chairman of Melco International during a probity investigation by Victorian authorities asked to approve the Melco Crown joint venture.