Does James Packer have Australia’s best rent deal?

The James Packer-backed Crown Group is paying just $1 a year to rent the site of its flagship Crown Casino in Melbourne.

The James Packer-backed Crown Group is paying just $1 a year to rent the site of its flagship Crown Casino in Melbourne.

It’s not a bad deal for a company that made $370.1 million profit in 2007-08 from revenue of $2.03 billion.

The extraordinary revelation was contained in a report by the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation, which was tabled in Parliament yesterday.

But Crown spokesman Gary O’Neill has defended the deal, telling Fairfax that the casino site was a “derelict piece of land, which had been unused for a long period and couldn’t be built on until it was cleaned up”.

O’Neill said the company paid a licence fee of $200 million for the right to establish the casino and had spent almost $2 billion to develop it since 1993. He also said Crown has paid the Victorian Government almost $2.7 billion in taxes and charges during its operation.

The Commission for Gambling Regulation’s review of Crown, which ran from 1 July 2005 to 30 June this year, supported Crown’s position as license holder.

But the report also highlighted a few problems with Crown’s operations during the review period, including 207 breaches of table gaming rules, 1668 breaches of gaming machine rules and 25 disciplinary actions against the casino.

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