Gambling to Continue at Star Sydney Despite License Suspension and AU$100m Fine

  • Despite a record AU$100m (US$62m) fine and suspension, Star Sydney casino stays open
  • Star Sydney will continue to operate under a license held by a NICC-appointed manager
  • The NICC cited large job losses and Star Sydney’s “contrition” as reasons for staying operational
  • A gambling researcher believes Star’s fine was “not enough to dissuade this kind of behaviour”
Blue Star Sydney sign
Gamblers can still frequent Star Sydney and staff get to keep their jobs after the regulator hit the casino with a license suspension and record fine, but allowed it to remain operational. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Star takes more punishment

Found unfit for a Queensland casino license earlier this month, on-the-ropes Star Entertainment Group has taken another one-two to the chin, this time from the New South Wales (NSW) casino industry regulator.

fined Star $100m and suspended its license

The NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) on Monday fined Star’s Sydney casino a record AU$100m (US$62m) and suspended its license. Australian journalist Daniel Sutton shared news via Twitter of Star Sydney’s license suspension starting 9am Friday:

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has halted trading on ordinary shares in Star after the gambling and entertainment giant emailed a request to ASX on Monday warning: “trading in securities may take place in an uninformed market.”

An NICC report published in August revealed “serious wrongdoing” at Star Sydney after it instigated a public inquiry following media allegations of money laundering, fraud, and the casino’s connections with organized crime.

News is brighter, however, for Stars Sydney’s staff and gamblers who frequent the property in Pyrmont. Despite the fine and suspension, the NICC said casino operations may continue, albeit with major conditions.

Conditions apply

While the NICC suspended the Sydney casino’s license, following it being found unfit to hold one last month, it’s not an outright revocation. Instead, Star Sydney can continue to operate under a license held by a NICC-appointed manager.

To that end, the NICC has appointed as manager Nicholas Weeks of Wexsted Advisors. Weeks will take control of Star Sydney starting at 9am on October 21 for a minimum of 90 days.

According to a statement Star released Monday, the license suspension duration will “enable the exploration […] of the possibility that The Star demonstrates to the NICC it may become suitable to hold a casino licence.”

One of the primary considerations behind the NICC allowing Star Sydney to remain operational and open for gambling was the welfare of its staff. NICC chair Philip Crawford said on Monday that “thousands of Star employees would have lost their jobs overnight.”

Crawford said a lot of Star’s approximately 10,000 employees depend on the income “to pay their mortgages and raise their kids.”

Contrition pays

Another factor favoring Star’s staying operational was its willingness to reform under new CEO Robbie Cook after Matt Bekier’s departure from the same role in March. Under Cook’s helmsmanship, Star Sydney has “shown contrition and wants to work with us,” Crawford said.

in the past, they’ve been very adversarial”

“That’s a huge change. In the past, they’ve been very adversarial and not really treated the regulator with the respect that they should have,” he added.

However, despite the $100m penalty — the maximum fine allowed and the largest ever handed out by the NICC — The Guardian quotes Monash University gambling researcher Charles Livingstone as saying Star’s fine was “not enough to dissuade this kind of behaviour.”