My Thoughts on Casino Mogul James Packer

It’s tough being the son of the legend, even if you’re a billionaire. James Packer did inherit an empire and he paid his dues via listening and learning from his father, and even working on Newcastle Waters Cattle Station for years, and of course receiving the private education at Cranbrook, Sydney. On education, Kerry Packer once famously said, “Why would he want to go there (university)? To learn to smoke marijuana? At his father’s funeral he said, ‘Dad was my mentor and my teacher, but above all, he was my father and that is my greatest fortune…”

In recent years James Packer has found out for himself how tough business is and I believe it’s true that the Australian (and international) news media doesn’t fear the potential repercussions by writing about James Packer and the family as much as they once did for his late father. Let’s not forget for a second that “they” were nicknamed ‘The Goanna’ by the Costigan Commission, with a list of allegations that Kerry flatly denied, and they are not worth repeating here, but a couple of the themes are covered on Network Nine’s ‘Underbelly’ in relation to the casino, gaming and racing industry.

Insiders close to the James Packer situation almost universally agree that he appears to have made two main business mistakes... the One.Tel telco fiasco in Australia back in 2001. One.Tel was a 1 billion dollar mistake. The other more recent mistakes being buying land based casinos in the Macau region (at top dollar), but James was not to know the ass would fall out of the market. Some analysts say some of the casino investments are worth next to nothing. Hang on, wouldn’t James Packer be paying people good advice on what to buy, what not to, and how much to pay? Packer didn’t have a luxury of a crystal ball.

The good news for Packer and the rest of us is that history shows us that global recessions don’t last forever, or do they? The global economy has been punishing Packer for the past few years and it’s largely matters which are outside his control, so I think the Australian press should give him a break and try to reflect a more balanced approach to journalism in regards to covering the business of being James Packer. Australia does have that “tall poppy” syndrome, but frankly, the digs at James Packer are getting pretty tied and long in the tooth. I wouldn’t want to be their next target, but there’s smarter than to do that anyway.

In a recent wise and generous decision, James Packer’s Crown Casino and Burswood Casino’s donated $500,000 to assist with the Victorian Bushfire relief effort, also supported by The Shane Warne Foundation and The Salvation Army.

I affectionately refer to the casino identities as the ‘Gumleaf Mafia’, a term open to interpretation. In any effect its great to see money largely raised by the usually lucrative gaming industry being put to good use and be poured back into Australian society where its needed the most. Interesting enough Australia’s press was unusually quite on the matter, despite some personal phone calls from I to the Australian Financial Review, however Gambling911 was very quick to report the good news, with CAP and Poker News Daily later following suite. The press seemed more interested in the crashing of the Commonwealth Bank website which caused me to deposit some money in the wrong account! Just imagine if it had been Packer’s mistake, you wouldn’t hear of it. Packer, if you’re reading this – and we know you will get to it eventually via the Bush Telegraph – don’t listen to the knockers. You’re a champion bloke with a beautiful family. Hang in there, things will pick up, and just keep enjoying life you tough and likable Aussie bastard.