It turns out the drama surrounding the Australian casino giant Star Entertainment Group is not over yet. According to an ongoing inquiry into the operator’s business in Queensland, Star actively marketed its products to high-risk gamblers.
Star Incentivized High-Risk Gamblers to Play
Star was recently involved in other scandals in New South Wales where investigators uncovered severe AML breaches. It turned out that Star had some shady dealings with the Chinese junket Suncity, with a foreign agent as one of the casino’s top visitors. This prompted Queensland to probe Star’s business as well.
The current inquiry is led by Court of Appeal judge Robert Gotterson. Although the inquiry is focused on uncovering AML breaches it found out something else. According to Gotterson and his team, Star’s Queensland properties, Treasury Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast, actively promoted their offerings to high-risk players.
Star’s Queensland casinos not only promoted their gambling products to high-risk players in the state but also encouraged tourists from other states to visit one of the venues. Queen’s Counsel Jonathan Horton pointed out that some of the people the casinos tried to attract were problem gamblers who should have been excluded from gambling altogether. According to him, this is a serious problem.
Some of them [the high-risk customers] on no view should have been invited to come to Queensland given the unavoidable suspicions that would arise about their involvement in criminal activity, the source of their money and the fact of exclusion and treatment elsewhere in other jurisdictions.
Jonathan Horton QC
The Investigation Continues
Although Star’s properties now have a policy that would see a player excluded nationwide, this was not the case before 2019. When the policy was introduced, it did not have an immediate retroactive effect. As a result, Star continued to promote its products to some of its older customers.
Horton pointed out that Star eventually applied the new policy retrospectively but that process took months to complete and was only finished in May this year.
In other news, the inquiry found that Star’s Queensland properties used China UnionPay to transact $55 million despite the RMB movement restrictions. The investigators will look into this matter and decide whether Star’s Queensland properties were involved in similar dealings to those in Star Sydney.
Horton concluded that although the current inquiry will not be focused on investigating Star’s suitability to hold a license, its findings can later be used to make a point on the matter.