Star Entertainment Submits Inquiry Response, Hopes to Keep Operating Sydney Casino

  • Star Entertainment accepts the inquiry’s findings and submitted a remediation plan
  • The NICC will ultimately decide if Star is fit to keep operating its Sydney casino
  • The company said it is committed to doing what is necessary to be deemed suitable
  • The inquiry uncovered extensive serious failings at the Star Sydney casino
Star Sydney exterior
Star Entertainment is hoping to continue operating its Sydney casino, submitting a remediation plan for the NICC to consider. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Admitting fault

Star Entertainment Group has submitted an official response to an inquiry in New South Wales (NSW) that found it to be unsuitable to hold a casino license in the province. On Tuesday, the casino company accepted the findings from the inquiry report.

NICC will decide if the plan is sufficient

It also outlined an extensive remediation plan it intends to follow if the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) allows it to keep operating its casino in Sydney. The NICC will decide if the plan is sufficient to allow the Sydney operations to continue.

In its official response, Star Entertainment acknowledged the significant failings that the Bell Report detailed. The casino company stated that it has already started making significant changes to its operations, including adding more “risk, compliance and security staff, approval of upgrades to surveillance technology as well as permanently exiting junkets and closing the Marquee nightclub.”

Attempting to get back on track

The remediation plan would lead to a major transformation of the culture, capabilities, accountability, governance, compliance, and risk management systems within the company. The changes would take until the end of 2024 to complete, with Star planning to finalize the plan’s budget in the coming weeks.

Star Entertainment Group is also on the hunt for a new CEO. Interim CEO Geoff Hogg handed in his resignation on Monday, having only taken over from former CEO Matt Bekier back in June.

Star Entertainment Group executive chairman Ben Heap has committed to doing whatever it takes in order to make his company suitable to operate a casino in Sydney. He believes that reaching certain milestones and being subject to strict supervision should give the NICC the confidence to allow Star Entertainment to continue its Sydney operations. In all, the plan has 130 milestones that the company aims to hit over two years.

Widespread failings

The release of the Bell Report came a couple of weeks ago, giving Star Entertainment 14 days to issue its official response. The company is also dealing with a similar inquiry in Queensland.

subpar counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering systems

Star Entertainment was found to have committed significant failings over a long period of time while operating in NSW. One of the biggest issues was intentionally miscategorizing payments from Chinese patrons as hotel expenses rather than gambling money. There were also issues with its relationship with a major junket operator and subpar counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering systems.

The casino sector in Australia has been in turmoil for a number of years. In addition to Star Entertainment’s struggles, rival casino company Crown Resorts also faced significant inquiries into its operations across the country. Crown Resorts only recently received the green light to start operating its Sydney casino after being deemed to be unsuitable for more than 18 months.