James Packer was seen on a yacht with friends over the weekend, with his rapidly growing frame indicating the stress of his past 12 months was having a lasting effect
From relationship breakdowns to business scandals, it’s been a trying 12 months for casino mogul James Packer.
The 50-year-old ended his engagement with pop star Mariah Carey after an 18-month whirlwind relationship, making headlines around the world late last year.
He made headlines again when multiple Crown employees were arrested and jailed in China over allegations they were marketing gambling holidays in a country where the practice is illegal.
Since, he has hidden away in his Buenos Aires ranch, living as a recluse to avoid the spotlight and harsh questioning.
The time alone may have done him good mentally, but the physical toll was evident as he was seen soaking up the sun with friends on a yacht this weekend.
Mr Packer sported a sizeable frame as he sat shirtless on the luxury vessel with friends – a far cry from the fit and toned physique he enjoyed early last year when his engagement to Ms Carey was announced.
Mr Packer looks nearly unrecognisable now compared to the slender frame he sported while dating Mariah Carey mid last year
Mr Packer was seen spending time with two friends on the luxury vessel as it sailed through the waters of Los Cabos, Mexico
The trio were seen enjoying lunch in front of a giant portrait of Marilyn Monroe
The mogul’s drastic change in appearance began towards the very public downfall of his relationship with the singing superstar, and has continued on as scandal after scandal hits the casino empire he built.
On Thursday, Mr Packer was forced to admit his plans to expand the casino business on an international scale had failed, the Australian Financial Review reported.
‘We didn’t succeed in a global strategy,’ he told shareholders in Melbourne.
‘I’ve been coming up here ever since Crown bought the sub-concession in Macau in 2006 and talking about an international strategy and we don’t have that today.’
Mr Packer did note, however, that the company had made a profit in Macau which covered the horrific losses it suffered in Las Vegas.
At the same meeting, Mr Packer was confronted by a former gambling addict, who asked him: ‘How much do you know about the very real people that are harmed by poker machines which are addictive?’.
Mr Packer said he was ‘sympathetic’, but it was ‘impossible to run casinos without tables and slots’.
A woman is seen appearing to hand Mr Packer a towel as he strolls through the yacht shirtless
While dating Mariah, Mr Packer slimmed down, almost reaching the size he was in 2003
‘We have a real responsibility to make sure people aren’t harming themselves because, in truth, if that happens it becomes bad for our business because of the political backlash, let alone the human cost,’ he said.
Last week, Crown Resorts Limited, which is partly-owned by Mr Packer, was forced to release a statement denying allegations they had been skimming money from slot machines.
Independent federal member Andrew Wilkie used parliamentary privilege on Tuesday to make allegations that Crown rigged gambling machines for its own benefit, allowed illegal drug use, and turned a blind eye to domestic abuse.
Mr Wilkie requested for a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.
‘Crown Resorts Limited rejects the allegations made today under parliamentary privilege by Mr Andrew Wilkie MP, as reported in the media, concerning the improper manipulation of poker machines and other illegal or improper conduct at Crown Casino in Melbourne,’ the statement read.
‘Crown calls on Mr Wilkie to immediately provide to the relevant authorities all information relating to the matters alleged.’
These new issues come after 16 people were jailed in China for promoting gambling, something strictly forbidden in the country.
The arrests were made as part of police raids across four Chinese cities on October 13 last year, The Age reported at the time.
Mr Packer’s appearance was a shock at Thursday’s annual general meeting for Crown Resorts, which he partly-owns
At the meeting, Mr Packer was forced to admit his plans for global expansion had failed, though the company did turn a profit
Crown Resorts head of VIP operations, Jason O’Connor, was released from a Chinese prison in August after he spent ten months in jail on charges related to organising gambling tours.
The charges took a 15.5 per cent chunk out of the profit margins of the Australian casinos, with many VIPs choosing to stay away as the scandal unfolded.
Days later, reports began to emerge Mr Packer and his then-fiancee had split.
At the time, it was rumoured the casino mogul had taken issue with Ms Carey’s lavish spending and upcoming reality show, Mariah’s World, and the singer had struggled to connect with his family.
Mr Packer recently told The Australian the relationship had been a ‘mistake’.
‘She was kind, exciting and fun. Mariah is a woman of substance. She is very bright. But it was a mistake for her and a mistake for me,’ he said.
The 50-year-old said he still regretted allowing his marriage with first wife Erica to fail.
‘It is my biggest regret that I let my marriage to Erica fail. It is what it is and she is doing an incredible job with the kids and we are in a great place,’ he said.
Mr Packers says his failed relationship with pop star Mariah Carey was a ‘mistake’ for the both of them