Aussie Casino Doles Out Millions by Mistake, Then Has Recipients Arrested

Posted on: April 17, 2024, 09:55h. 

Last updated on: April 18, 2024, 10:05h.

Star Casino in Sydney, Australia gave away millions in cash due to a software glitch before casino operators recognized and corrected the error. Their correction included arresting the recipients of the cash.

Operators of the Star Casino in Sydney, Australia, which is currently the subject of a second gaming investigation, were unaware the casino had given away $2 million in cash until six weeks afterward. (Image:

The glitch, introduced via a software update to the Star’s “ticket in, cash out” (TICO) machines, meant that when players inserted more than one ticket into a machine, it returned one of the tickets along with the total cash, and then allowed that ticket to be cashed out over and over.

The glitch caused the casino to give away a little more than $2 million to customers over 13 days last July.

Star Casino manager Nick Weeks. (Image: Crown Resorts Limited/Virtual Hearing)

Casino manager Nicholas Weeks blamed “a very significant failure across a large number of people and teams” for keeping the casino from detecting the glitch for six weeks after it occurred.

Local media outlets reported that 43 people used the TICO machines to withdraw free money. One was recovering gambling addict Thanh Lan Le, who reported that she relapsed after watching a friend do it over and over.

For the next 10 days, Lee told the Sydney Morning Herald, she withdrew $57,265, And by the time she left the casino, all but $5,000 of the money was gambled away.

Best Day Ever Turns to Worst

According to the Morning Herald, the casino then reported the 43 “lucky” cash recipients to police, who arrested Le and an unspecified number of others on charges of fraud, participating in a criminal group, and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of a crime.

Le pleaded guilty to a single charge of dishonestly obtaining property by deception and offered to repay the money.

“I understand it was my fault,” she told the Morning Herald. “I had deceivingly taken it, but the machine was giving us money.”

Weeks spoke this week during a second NSW Independent Casino Commission inquiry into operator Star Entertainment. In 2022, the commission found the company unsuitable to hold a Sydney casino license, after a public inquiry found that it had allowed money laundering, criminal infiltration, and fraud to occur on the casino premises.

The latest inquiry also heard from former Star CFO Christina Katsibouba, who testified that the casino’s head of investor relations, Giovanni Rizzo, asked her to cook the books to hide the loss when the company presented its half-year earnings report in February.

Katsibouba told the inquiry she didn’t comply.