Billionaire James Packer has resigned as a director of his company Crown Resorts for "personal reasons".

The company announced the move in a brief statement to the Australian Securities Exchange on Wednesday.

"We have appreciated James' contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down from his role as a director at this time," executive chairman John Alexander said.

In a statement, a spokesman for Packer's private investment company Consolidated Press Holdings said, "Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues. At this time he intends to step back from all commitments."


It comes amid a tumultuous time for the casino mogul, who has been tied to a corruption scandal engulfing the Israeli Prime Minister.

Benjamin Netanyahu has been investigated for receiving lavish gifts from businessmen including Packer. Israeli police last month recommended Netanyahu be indicted in two cases of alleged corruption.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo / AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo / AP

Packer was among those mentioned in the case, although there was no suggestion of wrongdoing on his part.

Last year, Chinese authorities arrested 19 Crown employees in Shanghai for allegedly chasing high roller gamblers. Crown sold its interests in joint-venture casinos in Macau soon after and was fined A$1.67 million by the Chinese Government.

In December, Packer sold more than A$100 million worth of Crown shares to keep his stake in the company at around 47 per cent, according to a statement to the ASX earlier this month.

At the same time, it emerged Victoria's gambling regulator had launched disciplinary proceedings over Crown's trial of "blanking buttons" on its poker machines.

The Victorian Gambling Commission said Crown might have broken the law over the use of the buttons, which essentially reduce player options, over a three-week period between March and April last year.

Crown said in a statement to the ASX that the matter related to 17 of the casino's 2628 machines. "The Commission's view is that the trial involved varying a gaming machine type and certain games in a manner that required the commission's prior approval," the company wrote," it said.


"Crown Melbourne's position is that the trial did not require prior approval, and therefore there has been no contravention of the [Gambling Regulation Act]."

Mariah Carey and James Packer in 2015. Photo / Getty Images
Mariah Carey and James Packer in 2015. Photo / Getty Images

Crown subsequently stressed that the "disciplinary proceedings" referred to by the Commission were "a reference to its prescribed administrative process" and that "no court proceedings have been issued against Crown Melbourne in relation to this matter".

James Packer, the son of late media mogul Kerry Packer, has an estimated net worth of A$3.9 billion, ranking him among the top 10 wealthiest people in Australia.

The Herald Sun reports Packer is currently in the US while he deals with his mental health issues and it was unclear when he would return to Australia. He has previously spoken about his battle with depression, revealing in 2013 that movie star Tom Cruise helped him when he was at his "lowest".

Last year, the 50-year-old opened up to the Australian about his whirlwind 18-month romance and engagement with 47-year-old pop star Mariah Carey, which ended in a messy breakup in October. Packer, who paid the singer a settlement of somewhere between A$6-A$13 million ($6.4m-$13.9m), described it as a "mistake".

"I was at a low point in my personal life," he said. "She was kind, exciting and fun. Mariah is a woman of substance. But it was a mistake for her and a mistake for me.

"Two years ago I was terrified. I had A$2.3 billion of debt at CPH, over A$3b of debt at Crown, I'd just appointed Rob [Rankin as chairman of Crown], Macau was falling over and [sister] Gretel was on my doorstep.

"Then, a year later, I've got China falling apart, the Australian casino businesses missing budgets by big amounts, I've got Mariah breaking up with me and I'm thinking, 'F**k!'"

Packer spent 10 years negotiating the settlement of his late father's A$1.25b will with his older sister Gretel. The process finalised in 2015, but caused a rift between the siblings.

"Stages of the negotiation with Gretel were difficult, but a framework for future resolution was achieved," he told the Australian. "We have not spent a lot of time together. She is getting on with her life and I am doing the same."


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


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