Star Sydney to undergo casino review

by William Brown Last Updated
Queensland gambling regulator to look into Star allegations

Star Entertainment Group will undergo a regular review of operations by the same lawyer who helped take down Crown Resorts in Sydney.

Gambling News reports that Adam Bell SC has been appointed to conduct a regular review of the New South Wales casino.

He former was the lead senior counsel assisting the Bergin Inquiry into Crown Resorts’ Sydney casino and has been asked by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to examine how effectively The Star is complying with its statutory obligations and whether it remains suitable to hold a casino licence.

Although the state’s Casino Control Act requires The Star to face a licence review every five years, with the last conducted in 2016, Bell’s appointment leaves no doubt as to what this latest review will be looking for.

“These reviews are carried out with the cooperation of the casino operator to ensure the casino remains free from criminal influence or exploitation and doesn’t cause harm to the public interest,” ILGA chair Philip Crawford said.

“Mr Bell was the lead senior counsel assisting the Bergin Inquiry into Crown Resorts’ Barangaroo casino and, as such, has extensive knowledge of casino regulatory matters in NSW including the issues of concern identified in the Bergin report.

“This experience provides Mr Bell with a deep understanding of the current casino landscape, which will be invaluable for this role.”

While Crown was found unsuitable to retain its Crown Sydney licence in February and could face a similar fate in Melbourne and Perth, Star Entertainment Group has so far emerged unscathed from a heightened focus on the industry.

However, the NSW Government has declared that it would support all 19 recommendations from the Bergin report, including the establishment of an independent casino regulator and a greater focus on addressing money laundering risks.

The findings of Bell’s review into Star Sydney will be handed down in January 2022.

Star Entertainment’s insurance claim rejected by court

Star Entertainment decided to put in an insurance claim with Chubb Insurance Australia and other insurers on the basis that its financial losses due to COVID-19 should be covered by its business interruption policy.

However, the insurance companies were not willing to pay Star Entertainment as they deemed a government sanctioned lockdown did not cover the terms and conditions of the policy.

Star, which runs casino resorts in Brisbane, Sydney and the Gold Coast, decided to go to the courts to see if they would force the insurance companies to pay up.

Star had a $1.75 billion policy for its casino in the Gold Coast, a $1.43 billion dollar policy for its casino in Brisbane and a $4 billion policy for its casino in Sydney.

Macquarie analysts predicted when the lawsuit was filed that it would be very difficult for Star Entertainment to get a positive ruling from the courts.

Star wasn’t the only casino operator to file such a claim as there were also casino operators in America who were filing insurance claims asking for reimbursement based on the business interruption policy.

Chief Justice Allsop ruled against Star Entertainment and said that after going through the operator’s special risk policy there was nothing there to cover financial losses from a government shutdown.

The Chief Justice also instructed Star Entertainment to submit further claims within a 14 day period regarding the spoilage of goods.

Star Entertainment released a statement and acknowledged the ruling of Chief Justice Allsop.

The operator has up to 28 days to file an appeal and Star Entertainment is considering the possibility of lodging an appeal.

For now, they will be analysing the judgement and then discuss whether they should accept the ruling or more forward with an appeal.

We should know more about this in the next couple of weeks.

In July, Star withdrew a merger bid to join forces with rival Crown Resorts.

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