CASINO

Crown Perth casino hosts Harry Styles, Crown execs take pay cut. Coincidence?

TAGs: Australia, Crown Ltd., harry styles, James Packer, one direction, Rowen Craigie

crown-casino-harry-styles-rouletteThe lure of casino gambling has once again got One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles in a spot of bother. Photos of the 19-year-old boyband member playing roulette at Crown Perth’s VIP Pearl Room recently surfaced via Twitter, and the epic handwringing over a stupidly rich young adult blowing a few bucks at a casino has begun in earnest. But given that Styles is (a) above the age required to legally enter an Australian casino and (b) worth a reported $24m, it’s hard to see where the fuss lies, unless he was annoying his roulette tablemates by constantly whistling any of his band’s insipid songs.

The band was staying at Crown Perth’s hotel while their tour swung through Western Australia, and the band’s motorcade reportedly blew through three red lights on its way from the airport. We’re anxiously awaiting some anti-gambling type to claim the rampant law-breaking behavior was ordered by the band’s handlers, who became alarmed when mad gambler Harry started going through roulette withdrawal in the back of the limo. At any rate, it appears that newly installed CEO of Crown Limited’s Australian operations Barry Felstead’s plan to attract more VIPs is paying off.

Meanwhile, Crown chairman James Packer has written a letter to shareholders confirming that he’ll be seeking a name change from Crown Limited to Crown Resorts at the company’s AGM on Oct. 30. Given Crown’s shift toward constructing more integrated resorts than pure casinos, Packer apparently believes the old name was, er, limiting. Packer’s letter, which prefaced the company’s fiscal 2013 annual report, said Crown’s future focus will be on boosting Asian tourism, keeping costs down at its Australian operations and promoting itself as “a leading global luxury brand.”

Crown’s report revealed that CEO Rowen Craigie took a pay cut in the past year. Craigie took home $4.9m, down 28% from the year before, as Crown only partially achieved certain performance benchmarks, thereby reducing Craigie’s incentive payments. In fact, all of Crown’s seniors executives saw their overall pay packages trimmed last year as the company’s profit dipped 23%.

Packer, who holds majority control of Crown, took no salary from the company, as is his tradition. Yet Packer did get Crown to pay $5.3m to cover probity expenses incurred for vetting Packer’s suitability in various casino jurisdictions in which Crown is either entering or contemplating entry. Crown is pursuing projects in Brisbane, Sydney and Colombo, Sri Lanka, while Melco Crown Entertainment – in which Crown holds a 1/3 stake – operates in Macau and is constructing a new resort-casino in the Philippines’ Entertainment City Manila, which is set to open mid-2014. No doubt Harry will visit during One Direction’s next tour, provided their audience hasn’t come to their senses by then.

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