O’Farrell Won’t Let Crown Casino Open in Sydney Before 2019

Crown Ltd.’s planned casino in Sydney targeting high-rolling Asian gamblers won’t open until exclusivity rights held by Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. expire in 2019, according to New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell.

The casino and hotel at the Barangaroo development site, west of Sydney’s central business district, would be run under the same probity and regulatory arrangements as Echo’s Star complex, O’Farrell’s spokesman Cameron Hamilton said in an e-mailed statement today. The rival complexes would face each other across a stretch of Sydney Harbour.

“Any new VIP-only facility will not be operational before the existing exclusivity agreement expires on 14 November 2019,” according to the statement, made in response to queries after the Australian Financial Review newspaper reported Crown’s complex won’t require a casino license.

So-called VIP gamblers are given perks such as free accommodation and travel in return for gambling large sums. Echo’s former owner, Tabcorp Holdings Ltd., paid A$100 million ($102 million) to the New South Wales government in 2007 in return for a 12-year license to operate Sydney’s only casino.

Echo dropped 1.1 percent to close at A$3.62 in Sydney trading, after earlier falling as much as 4.4 percent.

Crown subsidiary Pennwin Pty owns 10 percent of Echo, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Shares of Melbourne-based Crown gained 1.2 percent to A$12.45.

Martin Debelle, an external spokesman for Echo at Citadel Communications in Sydney, said he had no immediate comment. Karl Bitar, a Crown spokesman, didn’t immediately return a mobile-phone message and an e-mail seeking comment.