James Packer has resigned as director of Crown Resorts Limited just days before checking into a $5,000-a-night psychiatric hospital in the US.
Packer only re-joined the Crown board in August 2017 after relinquishing his positions as chairman and director in December 2015. Just over a year on, a spokesman for the billionaire’s company told the international press that Packer was stepping down due to “mental health” issues.
Packer Seeks Expert Help
Following the resignation, the former Crown Casino boss checked into one of the world’s leading mental health centres, McLean Hospital. The exclusive clinic in Belmont Massachusetts costs $35,000 and has treated Sylvia Plath and Noble prize winner John Nash in the past.
News of Packer’s admission was first reported by the UK’s Daily Telegraph on March 22 and, according to the Boston Globe’s Alex Beam, the hospital isn’t a typical celebrity rehab facility.
“Harvey Weinstein would not fit in there. This is the real deal. People with real life drug problems or mental breakdowns are treated there,” the American journalist told Australia’s news.com.au.
While Packer is now receiving expert help for his mental health issues, Melbourne’s Crown Casino is in the midst of a pokies scandal.
Crown Fighting Fires on All Fronts
Allegations of foul play with a select number of gaming machines first broke back in October 2017. Presenting evidence from a group of ex-employees, MP Andrew Wilkie alleged that Crown Casino removed certain betting options from a selection of pokies.
The evidence presented in court has since been used to start disciplinary proceedings against the casino.
“The commission has commenced disciplinary proceedings against the casino operator. These proceedings relate to the use of blanking of buttons on certain electronic gaming machines on the casino floor,” a spokeswoman for the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) told the press on March 5.
With Crown now facing a potential fine or the loss of its gambling licence, further allegations have come to light suggesting that employees tried to cover up the issue. Speaking to ABC News, an unnamed whistle-blower has suggested that the betting options were only reinstated after customers noticed they had fewer ways to ante-up.
A statement from Crown has acknowledged that some pokies had restrictions placed on them, but only during a trial period. The issue is one that executives at the popular casino will want to see resolved quickly, not least as the company looks to move forward without Packer at the helm.
For his part, Packer recently sold more than $100 million worth of Crown shares but will retain a 47 percent stake in the company as he looks to overcome his current health issues.