Star Entertainment Avoids License Suspension, But It’s Still on the Table

Posted on: November 24, 2023, 07:25h. 

Last updated on: November 24, 2023, 10:26h.

Star Entertainment will keep its casinos in Queensland open for the holiday season, significantly important news given its recent revenue reports and new tax obligations. Queensland Attorney-General (AG) Yvette D’Ath will allow it to keep its license intact for now, although that doesn’t mean Star should get comfortable.

The Star Gold Coast casino at night
The Star Gold Coast casino at night. The casino operator will keep its Queensland gaming license for now, but could lose it later if it doesn’t make progress with remediation initiatives. (Image: Star Entertainment Group)

Star was at risk of having its license suspended in the wake of a hearing that found it guilty of multiple violations, including money laundering and more. A year ago, Queensland determined that the company didn’t deserve a license, but gave it a year to put its house in order.

The Canberra Times reports that the year is almost up – December 1 is the deadline. Queensland is apparently happy with the progress Star has made, and has given it a little breathing room.

Not Out of Trouble Yet

The owner of Queensland’s the Treasury Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast casinos hasn’t received a completely clean bill of health from the AG. Instead, she recognized the progress that Star has made and acknowledged that it appears to be allocating significant resources to comply with regulations.

This includes presenting a plan with over 100 new compliance programs and 600 milestones the government laid out last year when it admonished the company. Queensland has signed off on that plan, which also includes an AUD200 million (US$131.34) budget, allowing Star to now prove itself.

The AG and the rest of the Queensland government are now going to watch to see if the company can begin to fulfill the plan it has presented. As long as it shows progress, it will likely be able to keep its license.

If, however, Star digresses, the outcome will be very different. The AG gave the company until May 31 of next year to impress Queensland, or its gaming license could be suspended for three months.

No one, not even D’Ath, expects Star to make massive changes in just six months after violating anti-money laundering and responsible gaming regulations for years. She expects the process to take “years and years,” and believes this is only the beginning of the remedial process, “not the end.”

Star has plans to transfer its gaming license from the Treasury casino to its multibillion-dollar project in Queen’s Wharf when it opens, possibly early next year. However, that property is facing its own dilemma over the suitability of one of its partners, Chow Tai Fook. That discussion is separate from the licensing issue at the other two casinos, and Queensland hasn’t yet reached a decision.

Star Stock Still Stuck

The news continues to hamper any possible rebound of Star’s stock on the Australian Securities Exchange. The price has seen consistent drops since the end of February, and still doesn’t show any signs of recovery.

The best price this year was AUD1.62 (US$1.06), well below the AUD4.09 (US$2.69) from the end of 2019. With the exception of only a couple of short spikes, it has dropped lower and lower as the year has progressed.

The price hit AUD0.60 (US$0.39) on September 28 and continued to fall. As of this report, it closed at AUD0.50 (US$0.33) Friday afternoon. It hasn’t been only because of the ongoing money-laundering scandal that has cost Star hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s also because of new gaming taxes the company is going to have to soon begin to pay.