In return for a seven-year pokies tax reprieve, Star gaming group has agreed to guarantee 3000 jobs. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS
  • crime, law and justice

Roll of the dice for Star Casino as it fronts new probe

Jack Gramenz February 19, 2024

A second inquiry will be held into Sydney’s Star Casino after a gaming watchdog was left unsatisfied by its progress in proving it should regain its licence.

Unlike the first inquiry in 2022, the next round of hearings will not be held publicly, but a report will be released after its conclusion in May.

The first inquiry’s report by Adam Bell SC found The Star unfit to hold a casino licence after exposing a litany of compliance failures.

These included a notorious gang-linked junket operator running an illicit cage at the casino and Chinese debit card transactions being disguised as hotel expenses.

Mr Bell will also conduct the second inquiry.

The Star Casino in Sydney.
 A watchdog is unsatisfied by the Star Casino’s progress in proving it should regain its licence. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS 

The Star was required to demonstrate a substantial shift in its operations to address its failings and prevent further misconduct after the first inquiry, NSW Independent Casino Commission chief commissioner Philip Crawford said on Monday.

“The Star has had 18 months to demonstrate that it has the capability and resources to regain its casino licence,” he said.

But the watchdog has not been satisfied after extending the appointment of interim manager Nicholas Weeks for what it said would be the last time.

“The (commission) has had concerns about the extent that remediation is attributable to the manager’s oversight and direction versus what is being driven by The Star’s reform agenda,” Mr Crawford said.

He said the commission was giving the casino every chance to prove its suitability before the manager’s appointment ends in June.

“The inquiry will provide the (commission) with the information needed to make an important decision for The Star, its employees, its stakeholders and the wider community,” Mr Crawford said.

A deal between the NSW government, Star and the United Workers Union  requires the casino to maintain a minimum headcount of staff numbers until 2030.

Opposition treasury spokesman Damien Tudehope took aim at Treasurer Daniel Mookhey, accusing him of “boasting about deals with your union mates”.

“Prioritise making sure you’re able to say to people of NSW, we will not give a tax concession to an organisation that is not meeting its obligations,” he said.

Trading in Star Entertainment Group shares was halted on the ASX on Monday morning pending an announcement from the company.

AAP has contacted The Star for comment.