Packer unlucky with U.S. ventures

Mar 17, 2009 4:05 PM
Gaming Insider by Phil Hevener |

Australian billionaire James Packer has not had much luck with Las Vegas casino investments that can keep a smile on his face.

This was evident in reports that his agreement to buy Las Vegas-based Cannery Resorts has been canceled. The change appears likely to cost Packer as much as $370 million.

Other recent Packer investments in U.S. gaming that have large question marks draped over them include the Las Vegas Fontaine-bleau, Harrah’s Entertainment and Station Casinos.

Not a lot of clear winners there, not yet, anyway, but perhaps Packer, the son of the late legend Kerry Packer may have the financial stamina and patience to wait for a return to better times.

Perhaps the recent news reports that tell of Packer’s decision to sell off some of his assets (his yacht and an Australian ranch) say all that needs to be said about his efforts to maintain the financial stability that will keep him moving ahead.

There may be more to the breakup of the Cannery deal than meets the eye. Perhaps Pennsylvania (Cannery owns the Meadows racino near Pittsburgh) was going to confront him with a tougher licensing process than he faced in Nevada where the public record shows he got nothing more than softball questions from gaming regulators.

But it does not matter now.

There is no question that Packer’s investments in U.S. gaming have melted down faster than an ice cream cone in the summer sun.

Only the Cannery owners emerge from this as winners. They will have some $370 million in unexpected cash and they still own their company. Not a bad year’s work.