Crown and Echo Cannot Both Gain Approval

Echo may have tried to come up with a Sydney solution that suits both them and Crown but as its proposal is considered, the head of the deciding panel has made it clear that either the proposed Crown casino or The Star’s redevelopment will be chosen but there is no way both of them can go ahead.

With its proposal Echo tried to achieve the best of both worlds but panellist David Murray, former chief executive of the Commonwealth Bank, has stressed that both proposals are exclusive and one cannot work with the other. Until now Murray kept the developments to himself but has now spoken out on The Star’s proposal. The problem with it was that it relied on an extension of its exclusive casino licence and if this were to happen, there would be no way Crown’s proposal could go ahead. It is simply a case of one or the other.

Echo Entertainment tried to outdo Packer’s proposal by offering a $250 million payment to the government in return for its continued exclusivity and a $1.1 billion development, as well as funding the construction of a bridge that would lead to Barangaroo. With its proposal, Echo has the ambitious vision of turning Pyrmont, Darling Harbour and Barangaroo into a resort reminiscent of Singapore. Chairman of Echo John O’Neill still hopes to go ahead with his own plans even if Crown does win the casino licence for Sydney, provided it would restrict itself to international rebate business.

Premier Barry O’Farrell has even been encouraged by the New South Wales Business Chamber to consider both proposals together but, as Murray explains, opting for Crown’s proposal would not allow for Echo to carry out its own redevelopments. Of course, it is no secret that of the two proposals, it is Crown’s epic Barangaroo casino resort that appeals to him the most and it certainly looks as if this is the direction the panel will head in. He even called an early cabinet meeting last week in an effort to speed up the decision process and resolve the matter once and for all but this was cancelled after Echo submitted its own proposal.

As it stands, there is still much work to be done before a final decision can be made and while next week is a possible deadline, there is too much to do to guarantee an answer by then. But one thing is for sure, only one proposal will be successful so they will need to choose carefully.

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