James Packer targets Asian high-rollers with new Sydney casino


James Packer targets Asian high-rollers with new Sydney casino - 16th May 2013

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James Packer Crown Limited Barangaroo Casinos Property Tourism Sydney Australia

Tycoon James Packer has picked a British firm to design his proposed billion-dollar casino for Asian high-rollers in Sydney, saying Thursday it will be "instantly recognisable around the world".

The Australian mogul wants his 60-storey building to rival the Sydney Opera House in the iconic structure stakes and to make it happen selected Wilkinson Eyre Architects ahead of two American firms also on the shortlist.

Wilkinson Eyre is best known for designing Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, the Mary Rose Museum in Britain and the Guangzhou International Finance Centre in China.

"When completed, Crown Sydney will be instantly recognisable around the world," said Packer, who already operates casinos in Melbourne, Perth and Macau and is planning a complex in Manila.

"Its iconic curves and fine lines celebrate the harbour and create an architectural 'postcard' that will help attract international tourists and assist Sydney to compete with other global destinations."

His plan is for a six-star hotel -- Sydney's first -- and a VIP invitation-only gaming resort that will be the first in the world with no slot machines, which traditionally account for a large slice of casino revenue.

If permission is granted, it will be constructed at the Barangaroo development site in the shadow of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a prime harbourside location once a working dock.

The New South Wales state government is still considering whether to give Packer's company Crown the green-light, which would require it to issue a second Sydney casino licence.
Rival Echo Entertainment, which owns the Star casino in nearby Pyrmont, has lodged a counter-offer to expand its facilities and extend its exclusive casino licence beyond its expiry date of November 2019.

Wilkinson Eyre director Paul Baker said it was one of the best sites in the world to develop and the architecture would take its inspiration from nature.

"Its curved geometry emanates from three petal forms which twist and rise together," he said in describing the building.

"The first petal peels off, spreading outward to form the main hotel room accommodation, with the remaining two twisting together toward the sky."

Since his father Kerry's death in 2005, Packer has moved the family business away from its traditional media operations and focused on creating Crown, a worldwide gambling empire.

Asian high-rollers, particularly the growing ranks of wealthy Chinese, are his target.