Star casino: Record fine for Australian operator over money laundering

The Star Casino Sydney
The Star had allowed money laundering and organised crime to infiltrate their Sydney casino

Australian gambling giant Star Entertainment Group has been fined A$100m ($62m, £55m) for failing to stop money laundering at its Sydney casino.

The group’s licence to operate the casino has also been suspended.

The Star has promised to “do everything in [its] power” to regain its licence and the community’s trust.

Casino operators in Australia have been under great pressure to reform their gambling operations following reports of widespread criminal activity.

The record penalties were announced in response to a damning inquiry in New South Wales (NSW) earlier this year.

It heard the Star had allowed money laundering and organised crime to infiltrate their Sydney casino, taking a “cavalier” approach to governance and at times making deliberate moves to cover its tracks.

At the time, the regulatory chief Philip Crawford said: “The institutional arrogance of this company has been breathtaking.”

The fine announced on Monday is the maximum allowed, but the NSW Independent Casino Commission stopped short of removing Star’s licence altogether, to protect thousands of jobs.

Under the conditions of the suspension, the casino will still operate under a manager appointed by the regulator.

From Friday the Star will not be able to run the casino on its own until it can “earn” its licence back, Mr Crawford said.

A spokesman for The Star said the company is committed “to charting a path back to suitability”.

It has previously promised to increase security staff, improve surveillance, end high-risk international VIP trips known as “junkets” and implement leadership changes.

The scandal has already led to the resignation of executives, including former CEO Matt Bekier.

The penalties were announced on his replacement Robbie Cooke’s first day.

Mr Crawford said the company’s “cultural issues” would take time to stamp out, but it had showed signs it could reform under Mr Cooke’s leadership.

The Star entered a trading halt on Monday morning, which is set to last until Wednesday.

After a similar inquiry in Queensland, The Star was earlier this month also found unsuitable to run its three casinos in that state.

Media investigations have aired allegations of misconduct at various casinos around Australia in recent years, including at those owned by the country’s largest gaming and entertainment group – Crown Resorts.

It was fined $80 million by Victorian gambling authorities earlier this year for its failures to stop criminal activity.


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