Thursday, December 8, 2022
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Queensland Ready to Decide The Star’s Fate

Queensland’s Attorney-General received the final report from the external commission investigating the multiple reported regulation violations at The Star Gold Coast casinos. The operator was implicated in money laundering, ties to criminal organizations, and financial fraud. The commission’s findings will determine whether The Star will lose its license, which is a real possibility.

The Growing Controversy Spread to Queensland

The Star Casino has a long history of controversy, but things started going downhill for the operator after a report by Adam Bell SC on September 13. The document revealed criminal ties, foreign interference, and multiple instances of fraud. One of the reported egregious violations included allowing a criminal with a 15-year ban from casinos to gamble at the operator’s properties.

The growing scandal caused The Star Acting CEO Geoff Hogg to resign after only three months in the position. The NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC)  issued the casino a show cause notice, asking it to explain why it deserves to keep its license.

Temporary CEO Ben Heap acknowledged all accusations, including the more damning ones, and declared that The Star would implement substantial reforms to remedy its shortcomings. However, the fallout inevitably reached neighboring Queensland, where the authorities issued an external investigation to determine whether The Star’s violations in New South Wales were also present in its other properties.

The Star May Lose Its Casino License

Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman reported that she had received the report, meaning that the state should soon release an official statement with its final decision on the matter.

Today, I have received the final report from the external review of the Queensland operations of The Star Entertainment Group… Cabinet will now consider the report.

Shannon Fentiman, Queensland Attorney-General

Depending on the severity of the reported violations, The Star could lose its license to operate in Queensland. Recent findings do not paint a good picture for the operator. The Star allegedly allowed individuals associated with criminal gangs to gamble on its Queensland properties and even showered them with expensive gifts. Losing the Queensland license could have disastrous consequences for the operator, which has so far managed to stay profitable despite the growing controversy.

The State’s Regulator Came under Flak

Much discontent regarding The Star case was also directed at The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR), Queensland’s regulatory body responsible for the state’s casinos. Industry sources claim that the regulator had failed spectacularly in its task, which is why casinos like The Star were left with virtually zero oversight.

According to OLGR’s reports, the regulator had prosecuted exactly zero operators over the last five years. In 2021, the institution issued zero fines under the Casino Control Act and only two under the Liquor Act. Patrons received nearly 150 fines, while casino employees got punished on eight occasions.

The regulator’s poor performance reportedly stems from its policy of relying on casinos to self-report any issues. However, The Star has proven that such an approach is not viable and leads to lawlessness and criminal activity. Hopefully, this case will serve as a wake-up call for the regulator to implement and enforce stricter measures on the state’s gambling sector.

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