Crown has conceded it will have to hand over the casino portion of its sprawling Southbank complex to a rival operator if ordered by the Victorian government, further freeing the royal commission to recommend an open tender process for the state’s lucrative sole casino licence.
The prospect of hiving off the Melbourne casino and opening up the licence to competitor gaming outfits has been raised several times by royal commissioner Ray Finkelstein QC, who is weighing whether Crown is fit to run the Melbourne casino.
In a final written submission to the inquiry, Crown acknowledged that if it lost its casino licence, the terms of its 99-year lease meant the government could force it to sublease the casino site to a new operator.
But it said the lease only required it sublease the casino aspect of the business and not the connected hotels, restaurants and retail, warning this would undermine its business model as an “integrated” resort and cost the state both jobs and gambling revenue.
“In the event that the Melbourne Casino licence is cancelled, Crown accepts that the state may require it to grant a sublease at market rent,” the submission said.