In Australia and local casino operator The Star Entertainment Group Limited has reportedly been told that the regular review into the license for its The Star Sydney property is to be widened amid allegations that it may have been complicit in instances of money laundering.
According to a Monday report from the Australian Financial Review newspaper, the move from the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority comes some eight months after rival operator Crown Resorts Limited was refused a casino license for its new Crown Sydney facility for similar failings. This earlier move purportedly led to an executive team shake-up that is still ongoing and prompted the $1.5 billion Sydney venue to be debuted without a gaming element.
The newspaper reported that The Star Sydney has its casino license reviewed by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority every five years with this latest examination being chaired by prominent local lawyer Adam Bell. This same figure purportedly served as a senior counsel assisting the official enquiry into Crown Resorts Limited that was led by former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin.
Australian Financial Review reported that the regular examination into the license suitability of The Star Sydney development, which was last year given a statewide monopoly on the operation of electronic gaming machines (EGMs), is to also now look into whether the 350-room development may have been infiltrated by organized crime groups. This contention purportedly emerged yesterday and saw the Brisbane-headquartered operator’s share price drop by nearly 23% to immediately wipe almost $736 million off its market value.
Philip Crawford serves as the Chair for the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and he reportedly disclosed that the coming examination into The Star Entertainment Group Limited’s sole property in New South Wales is to be conducted in private, which sits in stark contrast to the very public enquiry held for Crown Resorts Limited. However, the regulator purportedly proclaimed that it took seven months and a lot of money to run the earlier investigation and his office wants this latest probe to proceed at pace although ‘the consequences are exactly the same.’
Reportedly read a statement from Crawford…
“We wanted to get this inquiry going as quickly as possible and we will be as transparent as possible. We don’t have any evidence yet but there are definitely some areas we’ve got concerns about.”
For its part and The Star Entertainment Group Limited, which moreover runs The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane venues in the neighboring state of Queensland, reportedly did not specifically respond to the new money laundering or criminal influence allegations but did assert that it operates in ‘a heavily regulated industry’. The firm is additionally spending $2.3 billion to realize its gambling-friendly Queens Wharf Brisbane development and purportedly used an official Monday filing to call the fresh allegations ‘misleading.’
A statement from The Star Entertainment Group Limited reportedly read…
“We are subject to thorough and ongoing regulatory oversight including compliance checks and reviews across the company’s operations in New South Wales and Queensland. The Star Entertainment Group Limited also notes the recommendations of the Bergin inquiry into Crown Resorts that were supported by the New South Wales government on August 18, 2021. These recommendations will impact the regulation of casinos in New South Wales and are supported by The Star Entertainment Group Limited.”