MPEL's James Packer seeks to dominate gambling scene

Aug 6, 2012 7:17 PM

When legendary Australian high-roller Kerry Packer traveled the world, it was primarily to gamble. His son, James Packer, however, takes a different view. He wants to dominate the gambling scene.

James Packer, who partnered with Lawrence Ho to form Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., one of the major Macau casino operators, is making a major move to bring his gambling expertise to Sydney, Australia, where just one casino license exists.

And that license is held by competitor Echo Entertainment Group.

Although he already has a 10 percent stake in Echo Entertainment, Packer underscores the need for the Sydney government to issue him a license, if only to protect its struggling hold on a AAA credit rating.

“Sydney deserves one of the world’s great hotels on its magnificent harbor,” he said in a publicly-distributed statement.

“My desire is for Crown to build the best hotel in the world at Barangaroo. Crown’s record demonstrates we can deliver a centerpiece that will draw millions of tourists.”

But Packer doesn’t stop with his plans for Sydney. He already has announced a multi-million luxury hotel to be added to the company’s Burswood complex in Perth.

He also is looking to take his company global by expanding his presence in the United Kingdom. His Crown Limited has purchased the private British gambling firm called Aspinall and its interest in three operating casinos.

Next, he hopes to bring online gambling to Australia, although the activity is still unregulated. His company has entered into joint ventures with Betfair and other online companies to offer sports betting in Australia.

To those who question Packer’s ability to fund his expansion projects, he announced on Friday that he is working on a hybrid issue as a means of generating capital. This and other funding plans, he said, would satisfy his financing needs.

Where his father enjoyed spreading his action across an entire blackjack table, James Packer looks to spread his action across the globe.