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Star Sydney seeking to keep casino licence despite ‘failures’

Star Casino Sydney

Star Entertainment Group has acknowledged “significant deficiencies and failures” at its Sydney casino, yet the company argues it should be permitted to retain its gaming licence.

Star Entertainment’s attorneys assert that the gaming empire has already initiated a radical reform in reaction to a public inquiry, allowing it to retain its casino licence.

Adam Bell SC’s independent investigation of The Star Sydney in Pyrmont has uncovered charges of money laundering, theft, and criminal infiltration.

Evidence had disclosed severe mistakes and dishonesty, but Star’s counsel, Kate Richardson SC, claimed the company had committed to a transformation to prevent such failures from happening again.

As part of determining whether Star Sydney should keep its casino license, the New South Wales gaming authority investigated charges that the ASX-listed Star permitted suspected money laundering, organized crime, fraud, and foreign meddling at the venue.

Star’s attorneys revealed recently in a remark that the business had previously admitted it was not qualified to hold a casino license, but that factors had changed.

“The Star accepts that the evidence before the review permits findings of significant deficiencies and failings,” Kate Richardson SC said.

“The persons who engaged in the misconduct are no longer with the businesses.

“The Star respectfully submits that the review should conclude that it is presently suitable to hold the casino licence.”

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The casino broke restrictions on the usage of Chinese debit cards (on which $900 million was transacted), workers lied to the banks, and they did not do enough in interactions with regulators, according to the 36-day investigation.

Star allegedly tried behind the scenes to prevent the public hearings from taking place.

There has been a slew of strong resignations since the investigation began, including CEO Matt Bekier, Chief Financial Officer Harry Theodore, and Chief Casino Officer Greg Hawkins.

Mr. Bekier admitted to the panel that the facts revealed indicated a “significant, systematic, and cultural” issue at the casino.

Ms. Richardson said today that the fact that these executives were no longer with Star was “very relevant”.

“The character and integrity of a corporate entity, namely its suitability will be informed by the character and integrity of those who control its affairs,” she said.

“While it is accepted that parting ways is not enough, the fact those managers are no longer with the business is highly relevant.

“It sends a powerful message to all employees at the company as to what the board will and will not countenance.

“The departures set the standard of behaviour expected of all the Star’s people and, in particular, its most senior people.”
The revelation comes on the same day that the Queensland government launched an investigation into Star Entertainment’s fitness for casino licenses in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Naomi Sharp SC, assisting the NSW inquiry, delivered a damning evaluation of Star late last month, claiming “unethical behaviour” in the legal team and “extremely substantial shortcomings” in risk management.

She claimed that Star was unfit to run a casino and that changing personnel would not be enough to satisfy essential code of conduct criteria.

Non-executive directors of Star Entertainment will have the opportunity to make responses to the investigation next week.

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