Crown Melbourne (also referred to as Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex) is a casino and resort located on the south bank of the Yarra River, in Melbourne, Australia. Crown Casino is a unit of Crown Limited, and the first casino of the now–international Crown brand.
Initially having opened in 1994 on the north bank of the Yarra, Crown Melbourne relocated and re–opened on the south bank of the Yarra, in 1997. It remains one of the central features of the Southbank precinct of the Melbourne central business district. The entire complex has a space of 510,000 m² —the equivalent to 2 city blocks— making it the largest casino complex in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the largest in the world. The complex also hosts four hotels, Crown Towers, Crown Promenade, and Crown Metropol, with a fourth hotel approved for construction which is expected to commence in 2018.
Crown's casino complex opened in 1997, after moving from a temporary location that opened in 1994 on the north bank of the Yarra. It is one of the central features of the Southbank area in the central business district and the Crown Promenade fronts onto the waterfront as part of Southbank Promenade. Children under 18 are permitted into the entertainment and shopping section of complex, but not into the gaming area or areas serving alcohol. The entire complex has a space of 510,000 m², making it the largest casino complex in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the largest in the world.
Crown Casino opened in 1994 at the World Trade Centre on the north bank of the Yarra River. This location was a temporary, and training, setup while construction of the proper complex occurred. The Casino complex opened in its proper planned location at Southbank in 1997. Actress Rachel Griffiths infamously ran through the casino topless on its opening night. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week except on Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day when it is closed from 4 am to midday. It was founded, owned and run by Lloyd Williams until the Packer takeover by PBL in 1999. Crown Casino is the largest casino in the southern hemisphere and has a licence for 500 table games and 2,500 poker machines.
Amongst other games, Crown provides the six main casino games of Blackjack, Craps, Pai Gow, Poker, Baccarat and Roulette and it was also the first to introduce an electronic version of Roulette known as Rapid Roulette. There is also Bigwheel, the electronic Vegas Star Roulette and Rapid Baccarat.
All lower denomination Blackjack tables only offer a proprietary variant of the game called BlackJack Plus, which has been described as "the worst game of Blackjack in Australia". This variation enormously increases the house advantage from around 0.5% in the higher denomination tables, to around 5%, making its odds comparable to double-zero roulette.
As well as Three card poker on the main gaming floor, Crown has also offers varieties of poker including Texas Hold'em. The Crown Poker Room encompasses a large separate space in the Crown basement.
The Crown is also one of the major centres for competitive poker in the Asia-Pacific region. It annually hosts the Aussie Millions, currently the Southern Hemisphere's richest poker event. Starting in 2013, it became home to the World Series of Poker Asia-Pacific, the latest expansion of the World Series of Poker.
Crown Casino has 3,500 poker machines on the casino floor, with values ranging from one cent to one dollar, as well as a few two and five dollar machines in the VIP areas. Slot machines at Crown are made by Aristocrat, Ainsworth Gaming Technology (AGT), IGT, Konami and SHFL entertainment/Shuffle Master and WMS Gaming, the latter using Shuffle Master machines.
The regulator overseeing the Casino's activities, and to whom grievances can be addressed, is the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR). The VCGR regularly monitors the casino's operations to ensure Crown conforms to Victorian Gambling laws. Crown has been repeatedly charged and fined for minor breaches of the Casino Control Act 1991. The commission has an office located on site which is staffed around the clock.
The Crown Entertainment Complex has a rewards program where members earn points on every dollar spent at most outlets within the Crown complex. There are several nightclubs and restaurants as well as "Galactic Circus", an electronic games arcade, laser 'tag' game and bowling alley. Notable features of the casino include its entrance (commonly known as the "Atrium", featuring stepped fountains and sound/light shows under the themes of the four seasons), and pyrotechnic towers running the length of the Casino promenade. The Casino is also home to a number of luxury brand stores including:
Crown has three hotel towers, and a fourth which has received planning approval:Crown Towers: a skyscraper comprising a 5-star luxury hotel located within the Crown Entertainment Complex. It houses 481 rooms and villas over 38 floors. Located on the banks of the Yarra River it overlooks the city centre, Kings Domain, Port Phillip and Docklands.
Crown Metropol: reputedly Australia's largest hotel by number of rooms. This 5-star hotel houses 658 rooms across 28 floors.
Crown Promenade: a 465-room, 4.5-star hotel on 23 floors. It is located on the block behind Crown Towers and is connected to the main complex by a pedestrian overpass. It also houses Australia's only purpose built hotel conference facility the 'Crown Conference Centre'.
One Queensbridge: an approved mixed–use supertall skyscraper, which will become the tallest building in Australia. The plans include a 6–star hotel of 388 rooms within the 90-storey building. Construction is expected to commence in 2018.
Notable guests at the Crown Towers, Crown Metropol and Crown Promenade Hotels have included Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, Nicole Kidman, Rachel Griffiths, One Direction, Kerry Packer, Tiger Woods and Neil Murray and many other high-profile celebrities and politicians. Roger Federer, and several other tennis players often stay at the Casino during the Australian Open, partly due to the rooftop tennis courts which can be used for training.
The Palladium at Crown is a ballroom with a seating capacity of 2,200. It has played host to some of Australia's premier functions, including the annual TV Week Logie Awards, Brownlow Medal, Melbourne Victory Player of the Year Medal, Allan Border Medal and the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix ball.
Water features appear both inside and outside the Crown casino complex. They include the Seasons of Fortune, Southern Porte Cochere, Revelry, Brigades and Celebration.
Water veneers the textured granite faces of six towers that are located on a promenade at the Crown Casino along the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia.
At night, spheres of fire issue at choreographed intervals from the tops of the towers. Nine feet in diameter, these pyrotechnics have become an iconic part of Melbourne's night life.
In 2013, a man with access to the video feeds from Crown's security cameras via an accomplice cheated the casino out of $33 million.
In September 2015, Rochelle Nolan the fiancee and de facto wife of entertainer/comedian Russell Gilbert, took her own life after a battle with depression and was found deceased in one of the rooms of the hotel, According to Business Insider and AustralianCasino, 18 employees of Crown Casino were detained by Chinese police after having been accused of resorting to gambling crimes.