Star Entertainment’s Journey in New South Wales “At Its End”

Posted on: May 31, 2022, 12:05h. 

Last updated on: May 31, 2022, 12:07h.

One word describes Star Entertainment as a viable casino operator in New South Wales (NSW). “Unsuitable” is the outcome of the inquiry into accusations Star fooled regulators, fueled money-laundering activity, and failed its shareholders.

Star Sydney
Star Entertainment’s Star Sydney complex in Sydney, Australia. The initial result of an inquiry into the casino operator has determined it to be unsuitable. (Image: Bloomberg)

NSW is wrapping up its inquiry into Star and its dubious business practices. Some 36 days of testimony has included confirmation by several current and former executives that the operator was willing to ignore established laws.

Ties to organized crime, money laundering, fraud on an international scale, and more maleficence allegedly permeated the company’s upper ranks. Whether through act or omission, rule-breaking was the norm. The inquiry determined that Star is unsuitable for a casino license in NSW.

At World’s End

In submitting its latest take on Star’s activities in NSW, the panel overseeing the debacle made very clear what it believes should happen next. Naomi Sharp SC, an attorney who led much of the inquiry, doesn’t see a bright future for the company.

The inquiry makes the recommendations. NSW leaders determine what happens next. However, Sharp believes the state needs to follow the same course of action it did with Crown Resorts. Star could soon lose its license in NSW, with Sharp asserting that a company that violates “most norms” should find that its “journey is at its end.”

We submit that the evidence in the public hearing establishes that The Star is not suitable to hold the casino licence, and that its close associate Star Entertainment is not suitable either,” said Naomi Sharp SC.

Sharp made sure everyone understood the magnitude of issues at Star. In addition to potential money laundering and dealings with criminal elements, there were other, almost constant failures.

Staff repeatedly handed over fake source of funds documentation to cover the true nature of spending associated with China UnionPay cards presented by Chinese VIPs. The company’s legal team repeatedly tried to hide behind “professional privilege” and may have conducted “unethical” activity.

In addition, there was virtually no risk management framework in place. What does exist has been ignored.

Outcome Still Pending

Sharp is presenting her take on the situation to Adam Bell SC, the man responsible for bringing down Crown in NSW. Closing arguments will take place over the next three days, with Star having the opportunity to prove it’s worthy of staying intact.

Inquiry participants can then provide rebuttals and additional details between June 14 and 21. Subsequently, Sharp and other inquiry leaders will assimilate that information before turning over their final submission on June 24.

Bell then will have some time to prepare his final report on the inquiry before presenting it to NSW’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA). The deadline is August 31. But he could issue a recommendation to the gaming regulator sooner.

It isn’t likely that the recent exit of multiple figureheads at the company will save it from punishment. Sharp hinted at this in her update. She asserted that there is more to bringing a company into suitability than parting ways with senior officers.

If he concurs with Sharp, Bell could recommend the revocation of Star’s license. For Star, its future in NSW is tenuous at best. However, it does have an Ace up its sleeve elsewhere in the country.