Australian gambling tycoon, James Packer, will soon realize his plans to construct a new multi-million resort and casino in the Caribbean, thanks to a new law passed by the Antigua and Barbuda government.
Packer and his friend, the actor Robert de Niro, proposed plans to develop a $357 million resort on the site of the K Club on the island of Barbuda. While the site was famous over a decade ago as the secret Caribbean hideaway of Princes Diana, it has gone to ruin in recent years.
Packer, head of Crown Resorts, and De Niro reportedly purchased the K Club in Barbuda for U$13 million. They then paid an advance sum of $1.85 million to the local council so that they could ensure that 600 Barbuda council workers would receive a 20 week wage backlog.
The government has now passed the Paradise Found Bill which will expedite the development of the new resort and give Packer and De Niro a 25 year tax break.
Plans for New Caribbean Casino
The Paradise Found resort will consist of a five star boutique hotel, a VIP eco-lodge, a casino, an airport for executive jets and a marina with jetties that can accommodate VIP super-yachts.
Developers originally asked for 222ha of land through a 198 year lease for the project, however they cut back their requests to just 160ha.
It is believed that Packer will not use funds from Crown Resorts to develop the Caribbean resort, but rather from his private company, Consolidated Press Holdings.
Casino Plans Opposed
While the Paradise Found Bill was pushed through by the government, that is not to say that there was no opposition to the new bill. Senate Minority Leader Harold Lovell is said to be concerned that the bill involved surrendering public possession of land essentially owned by the 1,600 residents of the tiny island. Concerns were also expressed regarding the fact that there was no performance clause assuring employment of local people.
The Paradise Found Bill supercedes the Barbuda Land Act.
James Packer's Crown Resorts Ltd is considered Australia's largest gaming and entertainment groups, with a market capitalization of over $6 billion.
Crown owns and operators Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex in Melbourne, and Crown Perth.