Crown Resorts has filed a lawsuit against the New South Wales government to stop Barangaroo works blocking harbour views from its Sydney development.
The $2.2 billion Crown hotel, apartment and casino complex is on track to open in 2021, an earnings announcement to ASX said.
It also revealed Crown was defending its harbour views at the site, on Thursday filing a lawsuit in the Supreme Court to seek an order for the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) to comply with its contractual obligations.
The stoush is over the height of the neighbouring Central Barangaroo project, a mixed-use site featuring parkland, commercial, apartment and office spaces.
Crown said any proposed changes to Central Barangaroo needed to be negotiated in good faith and agreed to, to “ensure that sight lines from the Harbour Bridge to the Sydney Opera House are retained for the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort”.
Billionaire James Packer owns 46 per cent of the casino operator but quit the board earlier this year, citing mental illness.
He has purchased two residential floors at the Sydney building worth $60 million, an apartment record for the city.
Developer Lendlease has also filed a separate lawsuit against BDA seeking an injunction.
“Legal proceedings are never our preferred course of action and we remain hopeful of reaching an agreement with the Barangaroo Delivery Authority through negotiation,” a spokesman told The New Daily.
“However, we need to act in the best interests of our customers, our investors and our people. And in this case, that required us to seek an injunction.”
A BDA spokesman said it had always acted within its contractual obligations.
“The Barangaroo Delivery Authority, acting on behalf of the NSW government, has been negotiating with Crown and Lendlease about their sightlines over Central Barangaroo for 28 months. At all times the authority has acted in good faith and in accordance with its contractual obligations,” the spokesman said in a statement.
“The authority will defend its position in court.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she had full confidence in the BDA to “negotiate on behalf of the NSW government and protect the public interest”.
The Barangaroo resort will be Sydney’s first six-star hotel.
It will feature 350 hotel rooms and suites, luxury apartments, signature restaurants, bars, luxury retail outlets, pool and spa facilities, conference rooms and VIP gaming facilities.
In 2016, Crown defeated a legal challenge from a community group that objected to the construction of the casino on land previously reserved for parklands.
Crown posted a full-year profit of $558.9 million, down 70 per cent on a 2016-17 result that was inflated by proceeds from the sale of its Macau business.
Despite the fall, normalised profit – which adjusts for the effect of large wins and losses and excludes significant items including asset sales – rose by 14 per cent to $385.6 million.
Revenue was also up for the 12 months to June 30, rising 4.5 per cent to $3.49 billion, with turnover in its VIP high-roller gambling business growing by 54.5 per cent to $51.5 billion.
Normalised VIP program play revenue was up by 73.9 per cent at the company’s flagship Melbourne casino to $591.8 million from a gambling turnover of $43.8 billion.
The rise follows a 49 per cent drop in VIP turnover the previous financial year, after many Chinese high-rollers put off overseas gambling jaunts amid a Chinese government crackdown on gambling and advertising.
It was also the first financial year the company disclosed the operating revenue figures for its main floor tables and gaming machines, with the former generating $966 million in revenue and the latter $715 million.
At Crown Melbourne, gaming machine revenue growth was flat at $449.9 million.
Alliance for Gambling Reform director Tim Costello welcomed the new transparency, but said it showed the harm the casino was causing.
Crown executive chairman John Alexander said the sector had experienced “strong growth at the back end of the financial year” but could have been affected by the casino’s voluntary money and time limit setting program PlaySafe.
Crown was fined $300,000 in April for modifying poker machines without approval and hiding certain buttons on 17 gaming machines.