Queensland has officially begun its inquiry into Star Entertainment and the casino operator’s dubious work ethics. As the saga continues to unfold, acting CEO Geoff Hogg admitted that the company made mistakes, but said they were all “minor.”
Hogg said that the majority of these breaches were the result of simple staff errors or the failure to exclude certain patrons. He added that, to the best of his knowledge, the company had not paid any fines for violating Queensland law in the last five years.
Inquiries have already determined that Star violated rules related to anti-money-laundering (AML) policies. It also may have committed fraud. However, these apparently didn’t enter Hogg’s radar.
Star Boss Denies Serious Wrongdoing
Hogg only became Star’s interim boss following the exit of former CEO Matt Bekier and former chairman of the board John O’Neill. O’Neill took over briefly in April after Bekier’s departure, with Hogg stepping into the CEO role at the beginning of June.
During the inquiry, Hogg responded to a question about parallel infractions in New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. However, he only offered that the company had been improving its policies for the past three to four years.
Once we realised there were some gaps in what we’re doing that would apply in both areas, and committed to fixing those and addressing those which we’ve done over the last four years,” said Star Entertainment interim CEO Geoff Hogg.
The Star Entertainment Group is under review by former judge Robert Gotterson. The inquiry’s findings will ultimately be delivered to Queensland’s attorney general, minister of justice and other government agencies. The goal is to wrap up the inquiry and deliver the results no later than September 30.
Authorities announced legislative amendments to Queensland’s Casino Regulation Framework in May. These changes included tougher gambling laws, stronger penalties, and more measures to minimize gambling harms.
Hogg stated that the government had told the Star about proposed legislative changes and requested its feedback before submitting the inquiry. However, the operator has not commented on the proposed fines or the amount of the fines. Queensland anticipates introducing fines of up to AU$50 million (US$35.46 million), depending on the severity of the violation.
Queen’s Wharf at Risk
What happens during the review may determine the future of the Queen’s Wharf’s integrated resort in Brisbane. Analysts believe that if The Star isn’t unsuitable for a casino license, then it can’t proceed with the development of the complex.
However, comments by Shannon Fentiman, attorney-general and minister of justice, hint at another possibility. She stated that the reforms would be in place prior to the opening of the new property at Queen’s Wharf.
Inquiries have already shown that Star failed to uphold its regulatory obligations. However, the Queen’s Wharf project is a massive undertaking. It partially relies on a Star investment of over AUD$1.3 billion (US$872.95 million). If the operator loses its license in Queensland, the state will have to scramble to make up the difference.
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