Star’s Fall Continues as Operator Found Unfit for Queensland Casino License

  • Star has lost its Queensland license following a report that uncovered “major failings”
  • Major Star shareholder, Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook, is subject of a new investigation
  • Star hid millions of dollars as hotel expenses that were gambled with via China UnionPay cards
  • Last week, a whistleblower cast damning accusations at the Queensland casino regulator
Star Casino Queensland
Queensland has found Star unfit to hold a casino license, less than a month after it was ruled unfit to hold a Sydney counterpart. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

More of the same

Barely a month after being ruled unfit to hold a Sydney casino license, The Star Entertainment Group is taking more of the same medicine in Queensland.

unsuitable to hold a casino license

Australian media reported on Thursday that Queensland has ruled Star unfit to hold a casino license. Queensland Attorney General Shannon Fentiman took to Twitter to share the ruling and due process:

The ruling follows the publishing of 12 recommendations in an independent review by former judge Robert Gotterson. Fentiman stated Gotterson’s report highlighted “major failings” by Star in Queensland, which would have a negative impact on its integrity, honesty, and character.

The AG also mooted legislation suggested by Gotterson in which the government could install “special managers” to run the Star’s two Queensland casinos. This would ensure the AU$3.6bn (US$2.3bn) Queen’s Wharf casino development in central Brisbane would open as planned in 2023.

Major shareholder probed

Thursday’s license ruling also confirmed that a major Star shareholder — Hong Kong-based jewelry empire Chow Tai Fook — is subject of a new investigation.

According to ABC News, the AG has ordered an official new probe into “Chow Tai Fook’s suitability as a major shareholder in Star and Queens Wharf.” This comes after the ABC alleged members of the family-run empire, which has a 25% stake in Queen’s Wharf, have:

links to known organized crime figures.”

In addition, Gotterson’s inquiry revealed that Star had enticed high-risk gamblers to travel to Queensland instead of banning them for obvious danger signs. It also included findings that Star authorized AU$55m (US$35m) to be hidden as hotel expenses and gambled with via China UnionPay card payments. 

Star will have three weeks to submit proof of its suitability for retaining a Queensland license once it receives the state’s show cause notice.

Last month, the acting CEO of Star Geoff Hogg resigned after the Bell report deemed his firm unsuitable to hold a casino license in Sydney.

‘The wild wild west’

Last week, a whistleblower cast damning accusations at the Queensland casino regulator. As reported by ABC, The source claimed that no prosecutions of casino operators in Queensland have taken place over the past five years.

Tim Costello, the chief advocate of an Australian gambling reform alliance, said that when it came to casino regulation:

Queensland is a “completely lawless state.”

“There have been no fines, there have been no sanctions, there has been no action [this] is the wild wild west up here in Queensland,” Costello asserted.