Star Entertainment Admits Failings as Queensland Announces Investigation

Posted on: June 14, 2022, 05:14h. 

Last updated on: June 14, 2022, 09:11h.

New South Wales (NSW) is wrapping up its investigation into allegations Star Entertainment allowed money laundering and other criminal activity to take place at Star Sydney. Star has admitted it failed, which could come into play as Queensland announces its own investigation is getting started.

Star Entertainment
Star Entertainment’s Star Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. The casino operator now faces an inquiry in the state as New South Wales concludes its own investigation. (Image: CasinoBeats)

Star acknowledged that there were “significant deficiencies” at its Sydney casino, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. However, it believes revoking its license is too drastic. The casino operator is likely concerned after NSW decided to suspend Crown Resorts’ license over similar allegations.

The independent review into Star supported allegations of money laundering, fraud, and criminal infiltration at Star Sydney. Star’s lawyers today told the inquiry that Star had accepted that it was not fit to hold a license for a casino in the past, but that the company has fixed its issues.

Star on a New Trajectory

The people who committed the misconduct are no more with the businesses. Over the past few months, CEO Matt Bekier, board chairman John O’Neill, and several executives and board members have departed.

Kate Richardson SC, Star’s lawyer, told the inquiry in closing arguments that the company wasn’t suitable for a license. That was based on the facts the investigation uncovered. However, with most of the top brass gone, it is now worthy.

Last month, Naomi Sharp SC, counsel for the NSW inquiry, gave a harsh assessment of Star. She stated that Star had displayed “unethical behavior” and that there had been “very serious failures” in its adherence to risk management policies.

As a result, she determined that Star was not suitable to run a casino. She also argued that a change in management was not enough to meet established code of conduct procedures.

Non-executive directors at Star will be able to submit to the inquiry next week as the saga winds up. NSW will present its decision before the end of August.

Queensland Begins its Star Probe

NSW was first to launch an investigation into Crown before Victoria and Western Australia followed suit. Now, Queensland is following in NSW’s footsteps, and will launch an official inquiry into Star’s operations.

The Queensland government will explore whether Star should continue to hold a casino license in the state. Shannon Fentiman, Queensland’s attorney general, ordered the probe based, in part, on NSW’s findings.

Fentiman confirmed the inquiry in a statement today. She had previously refused to order an inquiry. However, the damning evidence in NSW was too much to ignore.

Star has a lot at stake in Queensland. It operates the Treasury Casino & Hotel and The Star Gold Coast. In addition, it manages the state’s Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Center. There’s also Queensland’s Queen’s Wharf development. Star has already invested millions of dollars and has committed itself to more.

The inquiry isn’t a surprise. Both the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) have been investigating the company for the better part of a year.

Star Responds to Calls for New Regulations

Star was also called to testify at an inquiry into the proposed changes to gambling and money-laundering laws for Queensland. These changes would allow for more cashless gambling, and could impose fines of up to $50 million (US$35.46 million) for violations.

The bill that would create a casino system would require operators, licensees and lessees to report legal violations. It would also increase the power of the Queensland government to collect information about their operations.