July 26, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

Crown Sydney is set to finally begin its gaming operations, more than 18 months after opening its skyline-shaping tower.

The initial gaming offering is strictly VIP, with an invite-only policy for those wishing to play in its Crystal Room, which opens first – another space, the Mahogany Room and 12 exclusive “Sky Salons” on higher floors are set to follow at an unspecified date.

The opening of Crown’s gaming operations is taking place under monitoring from the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority after Crown entities were initially found unsuitable to hold a gaming licence in NSW based on its track record in its other Australian businesses.

The commencement of gaming in Sydney comes shortly after two other significant developments for Crown – its takeover by US investment firm Blackstone and the quick appointment of a new CEO earlier this month.

Subject to probity approvals, Ciarán Carruthers, currently chief operating officer at casino Wynn Macau, has been recruited to head up Crown Resorts, replacing Steve McCann, who has been in the role just over a year.

“Blackstone is committed to investing in Crown, helping it realise its true potential as a world-class leader in travel and leisure,” said Blackstone’s head of real estate for Australia, Chris Tynan.

“Part of that involves bringing in global expertise to complement the existing skills within the business.

“Ciarán Carruthers is a highly experienced and respected industry veteran who shares our commitment to continuing the transformation at Crown and delivering an exceptional experience for all visitors,” he said.

Carruthers acknowledged McCann’s work as the pair prepared to undergo and transition period in their leaderships.

“I have been following Crown’s journey for some time now and am excited to join the company at a significant moment in its history,” said Carruthers.

“The reform, remediation and cultural transformation that have occurred under Steve’s leadership have been extraordinary, and I would like to congratulate him and his team for what they have achieved to date.

“I am committed to continuing that important work to ensure Crown achieves its ambition to be a world-leader in the delivery of safe and responsible gaming.

“I am extremely passionate about our industry and providing customers with exceptional entertainment and hospitality experiences.

“I have stayed at Crown many times and know how dedicated and customer-focused its people are, and I’m looking forward to working closely with them, along with the Governments, regulators, unions and customers as Crown enters this new era.”

There are also three new faces in significant board positions for Crown. Bill McBeath, formerly the CEO of Blackstone’s resort-casino property The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas, taking over as Chair of the Crown Resorts board. The Cosmopolitan has just had its operations taken over by MGM Resorts International for a cool US$1.625 billion and $200 million a year in leasing fees. Meanwhile former Virgin Australia CEO and managing director John Borghetti AO has been appointed to head up the Crown Sydney board and John Van Der Wielen is the Chair of Burswood Limited which oversees Crown Perth. Van Der Wielen was previously the CEO of HBF Health.

Blackstone has also signalled it will be appointing CEOs for Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth soon.