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Australian Regulator Launches Probe After Crown Resort Win

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The Australian casino regulator has formally launched a mandatory investigation into Crown Resorts' fitness to operate a casino after it won approval to develop VIP gaming at a Sydney luxury resort from November 2019.

In a notice published in newspapers on Wednesday, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority of New South Wales (NSW) called for public submissions regarding the approval of a restricted gaming license to Crown, controlled by tycoon James Packer, at the Barangaroo development in Sydney.

"It is expected that the investigation will be completed in March 2014," said a spokesman for the authority. That would be a shorter timeframe for approval than the more usual period of about a year, according to local media.

Crown, which won the approval from the NSW government last year, has entered into a binding agreement with the government to develop a six-star luxury hotel resort including a VIP gaming facility at Barangaroo.

That dealt a blow to rival casino operator Echo Entertainment, which holds an exclusive license for NSW's only existing casino, also in Sydney, until 2019.

(Reuters)