Think Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Macau get all the casino high rollers and VIP's? Think again, enter James Packer's Crown Casino, which is about to further live up to its 'World Of Entertainment' tag, thanks to a new Gulfstream jet and massive casino makeover, VIP style.
Media Man and Gambling911 investigate...
Crown Casino in the beautiful city of Melbourne, Australia, will soon purchase a $30 million new Gulfstream jet and greatly expand its VIP gambling areas in a move to counter competition from luxury casinos opening in the greater Asia Pacific region.
We reckon he's been speaking to aviation and lifestyle king of the world Richard Branson, who caught up with "Our James" last year at the Australian Grand Prix.
We understand Bodog's Calvin Ayre has been trying to give Packer and Branson a bit of a run for their money, but "C" seems too busy with online ventures, race tracks, coffee and babes, than to be a serious threat, and long time Packer family connection Damian Aspinall, has been very quite of late, no longer doing the social rounds with Australia's Elle "The Body" MacPherson.
Down to business...
The Crown $212 million upgrade will include the transformation of the 'presidential villa' on level 39 of Crown Towers into a VIP gambling area. Crown's Mahogany Room will also be expanded by 50 per cent, with 16 additional gaming tables. This is some of the action anti gambling campaigners were making all the fuss about last year including "sweetheart deal" allegations, and all sorts of innuendo.
The extra greens are legally permitted under an official deal the Victorian government inked with Crown last year, allowing Crown an extra 150 gambling tables in exchange for much needs extra tax revenue. The money's got to come from somewhere!
The CEO of Crown, David Courtney, advised press under the refurbishment there would be no increase in the smoking area at Crown, which just happens to have a lock on being the only licensed venue in Victoria where smoking indoors is permitted. We learned that no gambling facilities at Crown's new Metropol hotel, to be opened in April.
Mr Courtney said it was vital that Crown provide a premium attraction for its VIP gamblers, including free tickets to big events, high-quality food and accommodation. He said Crown's international business contributed $400 million, or 30 per cent of the casino's revenue. It's estimated that last years Tiger Woods visit alone brought in at least $10 million
"Over the past 18 months we have grown our international business by over 50 per cent. Competition for the high-end gaming customer is intense. To protect our existing business and to position us for growth, Crown will embark on a $212 million upgrade of its premium facilities" Mr Courtney emphasised.
"As part of this program, Crown will acquire a long range G5 Gulfstream jet. It is being custom-fitted out at the moment to the highest standards and will sleep nine people.
"That brings our total jets owned by Crown to three. (A jet) is now an expectation of the very top end customers, and so we do need to satisfy the demand of those customers.".
Packer's national competition on the Gold Coast, Conrad Jupiters, has recently upgraded their poker room in somewhat of a counter strategy in a 'art of war' type maneuver, but we reckon nothing beats the strategic alliances and friendships that the Packer empire has built over the years. From Macau to the land down under, James Packer's Billionaire Inc has all the action covered.
We wish management and punters good luck at the casino, and above all else, keep it fun.
*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911
*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited
*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company, covering over a dozen industry sectors, gaming included