SkyCity Adelaide Is Latest Australian Casino Under Investigation

  • SkyCity will face an inquiry into its Adelaide casino by former royal commissioner Brian Martin
  • AUSTRAC began its own investigation into the operator last year related to AML and CTF failings
  • Officials believe the multiple Australian casino inquiries show issues are systemic in the industry
  • Crown lost its Sydney casino license last year, while Star is facing Queensland and NSW inquiries
SkyCity Adelaide
SkyCity Adelaide (pictured) is facing an inquiry from Southern Australia regulators similar to recent investigations into Crown Resorts and The Star Entertainment. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Another investigation

SkyCity Entertainment Group is the latest casino operator to go under the microscope in Australia. South Australian authorities have launched an independent inquiry into Sky City’s Adelaide casino. 

Martin will complete the report by February 2023

According to ABC News, the inquiry will be led by retired Supreme Court judge and former royal commissioner Brian Martin AO QC. It was ordered by Dini Soulio, the commissioner for consumer and business affairs. SkyCity has confirmed it will fully cooperate with the review, for which Martin will complete the report by February 2023.

AUSTRAC, the Australian financial crimes authority, began its own investigation into SkyCity last year.

Suspicions first raised

In 2021, AUSTRAC said it had identified issues regarding SkyCity Adelaide’s management of high-risk customers and “politically exposed people.” These issues are related to “ongoing customer due diligence,” along with its commitment to anti-money-laundering (AML) and anti-terror-financing measures (CTF).

The failings in question related to two periods between July 2015 to June 2016 and then July 2018 to June 2019. The company responded to the announcement by saying that it took its responsibilities seriously and would cooperate fully with the investigation.

In March this year, AUSTRAC began legal proceedings against Crown Resorts relating to AML and CTF failings by Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth. The regulator identified 547 breaches of its rules. The court has not yet confirmed whether Crown will pay a civil penalty, but each failing can carry a fine of as much as AU$22.2m (US$16.2m).

Systemic issues

Officials in multiple states in Australia are cracking down on casinos. Crown Resorts and The Star Entertainment have both faced similar investigations. Both of these inquiries discovered failings of governance. Soulio said these inquiries have shown that the problems “extend beyond any one organization and point instead to broader systemic issues.”

made sufficient changes to its operations and governance

Crown has only just regained its Sydney casino license after an inquiry found it unfit to hold one last year. Last month, it received the news that it could finally open the casino in its AU$2.2bn ($1.5bn) Barangaroo property. Officials ruled that Crown had made sufficient changes to its operations and governance.

Meanwhile, Queensland launched its probe into Star Entertainment’s casino license last month. The government had concerns regarding allegations of integrity issues and money laundering. It followed a similar investigation in New South Wales. Since the inquiries began, high-profile Star resignations have included CEO Matt Bekier and CFO Harry Theodore.