James Packer’s PBL continues its drive into the international casino market with its first move into the Mecca of gambling, Las Vegas, where his late father was a different kind of player.

Dad used to terrify the owners of Casino’s such as the old MGM grand. He was known as a “Whale”, a big big punter who would bet and happily win or lose million dollar sums.

But his son is different: he’s a minnow, bringing millions to invest in casinos his father probably wouldn’t have gone into because he reportedly didn’t like resorts or the entertainment. All he wanted was a bed, a steak, something to drink, a place in the high roller’s room and no chat.

The deal means PBL has spent around $520 million on two deals in Las Vegas and the one last week in Canada. It has spend hundreds of million in Macau from the $4 billion or so liberated by the sale of half of PBL Media to private equity.

PBL announced today that had entered into an agreement to acquire 19.6% of US based Fontainebleau Resorts, LLC for US$250 million:

Fontainebleau Resorts is the developer of a major new casino/resort property on the Las Vegas Strip and the owner of the legendary Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach. Fontainebleau Las Vegas will be a world class, destination resort, comprising a casino, luxury hotel rooms, suites and condominium-hotel units…

“This transaction provides PBL Gaming with a first class entrance into the US casino resort market, in particular, the renowned Las Vegas Strip”, Mr Packer said. PBL announced today that a 50/50 joint venture between it and Macquarie Bank has entered into an agreement to make an offer to acquire Gateway Casinos, one of the largest casino operators in Western Canada.

This makes it James Packer’s deal, just as the move into Macau was his deal: his name and face were all over the Melco deal.

That’s why its a more interesting deal than last week’s which saw PBL team up with Macquarie Bank to move into Canada. But who announced that bigger and more complicated deal: the head of PBL Gaming and its new world gaming business, Rowen Craigie.

PBL had advisers but it is interesting that for the deals in the two glamour gambling spots of the world, Macau and Las Vegas, James Packer has been the one to announce the deal, while in the more interesting and potentially more profitably Canadian play, its his gaming boss who has his face to the deal.

Canada will never have the glamour and glitz of Las Vegas and Macau: those deals make you seem to be a “player”.

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.