Echo goes to war with James Packer over Casino bid

ECHO Entertainment plans to invest at least $1 billion to fend off billionaire James Packer's attempts to break the company's Sydney casino monopoly.

The operator of the city's Star casino and Crown, Packer's gaming company, have prepared rival proposals for developments on the shores of Sydney's harbour, with the New South Wales state government saying it will approve only one.

Echo's plan requires investment of more than A$1 billion, chief executive John Redmond said on Channel Nine's Financial Review Sunday.

"I have nothing against Crown or nothing against James Packer," he said. "This is really an investment in Echo's future. It should be only one casino and one city."

Melbourne-based Crown is seeking backing from the NSW Government for a gaming resort targeting high-rollers at a development called Barangaroo, across Sydney Harbour from Echo's The Star complex.

Echo's gaming licence for The Star runs until 2093, with a guarantee it will be Sydney's only casino until 2019.

The long-term viability of the Star would be put at risk if its monopoly ends, Redmond said in April.



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