Effective in September

Crown Sydney CEO Simon McGrath to resign only weeks after Barangaroo casino opening

Simon McGrath.
Reading time 1:54 min

Crown Sydney’s chief executive and group head of hospitality Simon McGrath announced he is stepping down from the company just eight months after joining the business. The company has now confirmed his exit.  

McGrath, who joined the company in February, will leave in September. As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, a spokesperson for Crown stated that the casino operator’s new owner, Blackstone, has already chosen a replacement with extensive experience in the gaming sector. However, his second role as Crown’s group head of hospitality will be discontinued when he leaves.

Simon has made an important contribution to Crown Sydney during his time as CEO, including overseeing the successful opening of Australia’s only VIP members-only casino, and we wish them the best for the future," the spokesperson said. McGrath joined Crown in February after leading Accor’s Pacific Division for 15 years.

Weeks after formally taking the leadership role in the Australian gaming giant, Blackstone hired industry veteran Ciaran Carruthers , who has 20 years of experience in the Macau gaming sector, to lead the group. The Australian Financial Reviews reports it's likely Crown will also replace McGrath with a new recruit from the Chinese gambling hub.

Crown Resorts shareholders voted to accept a $6.2 billion takeover offer from Blackstone in May, thus ending three years under former major shareholder James Packer. However, this transaction wasn't without its trouble, as the company had been in turmoil since mid-2019, when The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes revealed how it had allegedly been infiltrated by international criminal syndicates and money launderers. Since then, the company has undergone inquiries in all three states where it operates. 

Ciaran Carruthers.

Crown was thus forced to overhaul its board, management and procedures to satisfy the regulators, who approved a conditional license for Crown to operate its Barangaroo, Sydney casino in June. The conditional license is valid until December 31, 2023.

On August 8, Crown opened its members-only casino’s main gaming floor, the Crystal Room, which features 160 tables and 66 electronic tables. The launch was almost two years after the Barangaroo resort opened without gaming in place, and a decade after Packer launched his campaign to build the gambling facility. In October, the exclusive floor Mahogany Room will also open 30 private salons. As a VIP-only facility, Crown Barangaroo has no poker machines.

In other news, and unrelated to McGrath's exit, Crown shut down entry to its gaming floors on Tuesday for a variety of regular tests of its technology systems and processes. A spokeswoman for the company stated that the shutdown was temporary, and that the company is “committed to delivering a safe and responsible gaming environment and a seamless customer experience."

"The customer feedback on our VIP Sydney casino so far has been overwhelmingly positive," the spokeswoman further said, as reported by Australian Financial Review.  

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