Crown Resorts finalizes share sale of Las Vegas Strip development site

Crown Sydney Hotel Resort, Barangaroo South, Sydney. Photo Credit: Crown Resorts (Crown Resorts has sold its stake in a vacant lot originally planned for a casino on Las Vegas Boulevard in a $325-million deal. )

Melbourne-based Crown Resorts has finalized the $300-million sale of its stake in a 34.6-acre vacant lot on Las Vegas Boulevard to a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts. Crown Resorts will take approximately $264 million in proceeds following the sale. 

The sale of the plot, which Crown originally planned to develop into an Alon hotel and casino, falls in line with the company's recent asset disposals to repay debt. The company, led by James Packer, also decided to drop its plans to expand into a global casino and hotel empire. The developer kicked off the selling spree when it sold its stake in a former joint-venture casino development company Melco Crown Entertainment in Macau. Later, Crown decided to drop its plans to develop a new casino on its Las Vegas site. 

During Crown's last general meeting, Packer said that his plans for global expansion had failed mainly due to the incarceration of China-based Crown Resorts staff members, who were charged for illegally promoting gambling in mainland China. The group signed off on the Las Vegas land sale last year as part of a $700-million portfolio sale of Australian and overseas assets. Now, Crown has shifted its focus onto its resorts in Melbourne and Perth, and is planning to build a new casino resort in Barangaroo, Sydney.

Crown put plans on hold several times for the new Sydney property, which is geared toward Chinese travelers. The company received approvals from the NSW Planning Assessment Commission to develop the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort at Barangaroo South back in summer 2016. The project, however, has been facing numerous delays, especially due to its growing debt gained from other projects in Sydney and overseas and dropping profits and share prices from its Macau-based JV. The development continued to face even more hurdles and scrutiny when the Chinese government launched an inquiry on Crown's tactics in attracting Chinese businessman to its casinos in Australia in October 2016.

The company added other asset sales to the list in December 2017. These include more than $70 million worth of shares in U.S. casino group Caesars, its 62-percent stake in online gambling site CrownBet and two floors of its upcoming Sydney casino Packer, Crown Resorts’ CEO and major shareholder.