Posted on: Jun 30, 2022 12:14 pm.
Last updated on: Jun 30, 2022 12:36 pm.
Star Entertainment knows it screwed up. Already facing an unknown future in New South Wales (NSW), it is now under intense scrutiny in Queensland as the Australian state sets out its plans for a formal investigation.
However, there is more at risk in Queensland. There, Star operates The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane. It’s also part of a multi-billion dollar development the government has started for Queen’s Wharf.
Queensland is ready to launch its official investigation into Star, due next month. These include violating anti-money laundering (AML) practices and facilitating the use of China UnionPay cards, which allowed Chinese nationals to circumvent China’s currency controls. It will also closely examine the management of VIPs and other high-profile individuals.
All chips on the table
This investigation comes a month after Queensland announced tougher gambling laws with fines of up to $50 million ($35.46 million) for breaking the rules. Worse could come, however – Victoria and Western Australia impose double penalties.
In addition to reviewing how Star may have handled AML policies in Queensland, the review will also examine how casinos approach gambling harm minimization and ban management. In particular, the inquiry wants to know whether Star has allowed expelled NSW players to play in the state. It will also investigate whether the operator has enticed these excluded people to visit its properties.
The investigation is being led by former Judge Robert Gotterson AO. Before retiring in 2019, he was a member of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal.
Gotterson is assisted by Jonathan Horton QC, just as Naomi Sharp SC assisted Adam Bell SC in NSW. Among his qualifications he carried out a review of The Star Casino‘s license under NSW’s Casino Control Act 1992 in 2016.
Given the body of evidence that has emerged regarding the operation of The Star Sydney and the joint governance and operating arrangements of the wider Star Group companies, it is important that the investigation be able to gather information from everyone it considers suitableQueensland Attorney General Shannon Fentiman said.
Shannon Fentiman, the state attorney general, said the investigation into Star’s operations will have all the rights, jurisdiction, safeguards and authority of a formal commission of inquiry. In other words, the state has the right to ask questions and demand answers, and Star cannot refuse.
star from options
The Queensland Inquiry may also use evidence from the NSW Inquiry. Everything the investigations uncovered there is legal in Queensland. In crafting the framework that legitimizes the investigation, the government said Gotterson and Horton had significant latitude. They are not required to “investigate specific matters that have been adequately and adequately addressed by the Bell Examination.”
Additionally, Queensland made it clear that Star is already in a hole that it may not be able to get out of. The terms of the inquiry add that the NSW inquiry found evidence leading to “significant concerns about the operation of The Star Sydney” and the “conduct of companies within the Star Group more broadly”.
Fentiman’s comments, coupled with the layout of the investigation, seem to indicate that there is a foregone conclusion. As NSW completed its investigation, Sharp suggested that Star was unfit to hold a casino license. Queensland may already be feeling the same.
The results of the NSW survey may not be available until late August. How long Queensland needs is unclear. But it doesn’t appear the government expects a protracted case.