Star Special Manager Says Casino Giant Faked Welfare Checks for Slots Players

  • Nicholas Weeks is providing testimony as part of a fresh inquiry
  • He highlighted how Star staff falsified welfare check compliance logs
  • Weeks also revealed a plot by senior management to oust him
Star Sydney casino
The special manager of Star Entertainment has alleged that staff members falsified welfare checks for slot players. [Image:]

Make or break

Star Entertainment is in the line of fire once more this week as a fresh inquiry in New South Wales (NSW) into the company’s remediation efforts begins. Nicholas Weeks was appointed as the casino company’s special manager in October 2022 to ensure that Star made the necessary changes following the initial probe by the NSW Independent Casino Commission that deemed it to be unsuitable to operate its Sydney casino.

mistakenly paid out AU$3.2m (US$2m) to patrons

In the opening round of evidence on Monday, Weeks alleged that Star faked welfare checks for slot players and mistakenly paid out AU$3.2m (US$2m) to patrons who were playing on these machines. He even claimed that some of the company’s executives were planning to oust him.

Despite having an initial term of just three months, Weeks remains in place following three separate term extensions as the state’s regulator isn’t happy with the progress the company has made to date. Current and former senior Star executives will also give evidence over the coming three weeks before Adam Bell SC weighs up all the testimonies and evidence to decide if Star can continue operating.

Ongoing issues

The issue with patrons accidentally getting a total of AU$3.2 (US$2m) from slot machines because of the broken “ticket in, cash out” system last summer took six weeks to resolve. Customers could reuse their slot machine tickets to get more money than they were due. The lack of urgency to resolve the matter was concerning to Weeks and he said that this indicated “deep cultural problems.”

Adam Bell is back again to head up the second inquiry two years later. The regulator has the ability to completely strip Star’s casino license, which would impact thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue.

It was Liquor and Gaming NSW officers who noticed that the casino company was not properly carrying out welfare checks on people who were playing slot machines continuously for more than three hours. Weeks looked into the matter and found that customer support personnel at the Star Sydney falsified the compliance log to say that they had completed these checks. This was a long-running issue and led to investigations into the company’s Gold Coast and Brisbane properties.

A plot to oust Weeks

Robbie Cooke recently left the role of Star Entertainment CEO due to the lack of progress and while Weeks acknowledged his hard work in trying to turn things around, Cooke ultimately wasn’t able to properly balance running the business and meeting the remediation requirements.

Weeks was privy to communications between Cooke and the executive chair David Foster about trying to remove the special manager from his role, including considering pushing for a class-action lawsuit led by shareholders against Weeks and the regulator. One of the text messages from Foster spoke about “prepping for war.”

the company’s management still had their eyes off the ball

Weeks says that this indicates the company’s management still had their eyes off the ball when they should have been focusing on more important matters, especially when the individuals claimed publicly that they were fully cooperating to address all deficiencies. The special manager even claimed that they accessed his calendar and emails without consent as they mentioned information in their exchanges that would not be otherwise accessible.

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