Mogul Packer buys Las Vegas casino site

Australian mogul James Packer's Crown Resorts has paid Aus$280 million (US$260 million) for a prime site on Las Vegas Boulevard in a bid to crack the American casino market, the company said Monday. The billionaire, who runs Crown -- a worldwide gambling empire -- has teamed up with former Wynn Las Vegas president Andrew Pascal in a joint venture, backed by Oaktree Capital Management. The new resort company, which is majority-owned by Crown, has bought a controlling interest in a 34.6-acre vacant site on the world-famous gambling strip formerly occupied by the New Frontier casino. "You can't be in the gaming industry and not have a special reverence for Las Vegas -- that's where it all began," said Packer, who is co-chairman of the new venture. "As we have built Crown Resorts into a thriving international company with successful casino ventures in Australia, Macau, and London, we've always kept our eye on Las Vegas. "And while we fell short in past attempts to enter that market, we now have the ideal opportunity with a great local partner in Andrew, a leading financial investor in Oaktree, and the perfect piece of property." The new resort company hopes to start development in late 2015 and complete the project in 2018. "For over 25 years, I've studied the ever shifting Las Vegas landscape," said Pascal, the other co-chairman. "I've always been inspired by this city's capacity for reinvention. I'm excited to have my hand in crafting something new and fresh for the resurgent Las Vegas market." Packer, the son of late media baron Kerry Packer, is one of Australia's wealthiest people, with a personal fortune estimated at Aus$7.2 billion. As well as casinos in Melbourne, Perth, Macau and London, he is also planning one in Sydney and has his eye on the Japanese market.

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