Queensland gambling regulator to look into Star allegations

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Queensland gambling regulator to look into Star allegations

The Queensland gambling regulator has announced it will investigate allegations of money laundering related to Star Entertainment Group.

The ABC reports that Attorney-General in Queensland announced the news after explosive allegations were aired on 60 Minutes and in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

The Sydney-based Star operates casinos in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, as well as its flagship venue in Sydney.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the regulator will work in conjunction with Queensland police and the anti-money laundering agency AUSTRAC.

Star responds to bombshell report

It comes after similar inquiries were announced in New South Wales, Western Australia and Victoria.

The casino operator’s shares dropped 23 per cent to $3.30 on October 12 after allegations published by Nine Entertainment described “suspected money laundering, organised crime, large-scale fraud and foreign interference,” enabled by The Star.

In a statement to the stock exchange, The Star described the media reports as “misleading”.

In a statement, Ms Fentiman described the allegations as “very serious” and said she was following the Bergin inquiry into Crown casino.

“The investigation will consider the appropriateness and effectiveness of Star’s due diligence processes in relation to anti-money laundering and how the Star approaches exclusions to ensure people are excluded from all properties where appropriate,” it read.

“The government will be considering the outcomes of the various inquiries carefully and will make any necessary changes to the regulatory framework.”

The Star Sydney casino is currently being reviewed by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Star’s plight follows similar trajectory to rival Crown

Two years ago, the same news outlets made similar allegations against Australia’s biggest gaming and entertainment group Crown Resorts.

That report triggered a series of public investigations into the firm that has left its future in doubt.

In February 2021, the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority said Crown was unfit to operate its casino in Sydney after an official inquiry found it had facilitated money laundering.

The ruling prevented the company from securing a licence to operate its newly-built $2.2 billion Sydney casino.

The scandal also saw the departure of its chief executive Ken Barton less than a week after the findings of the inquiry were made public.

A regulatory report into Crown’s suitability to run its casino in Melbourne is due on Friday, while an inquiry into its Perth casino is expected in 20222.

The list of allegations mirrors those levelled at its rival Crown Resorts, which has faced two years of excoriating public inquiries in three states that have threatened its casino licences, forced a sweeping corporate overhaul and seen it declared unfit to run its new flagship Sydney Barangaroo casino.

Star has escaped any significant repercussions of the kind faced by its rival operator, but the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has recently launched its five-year review of the company’s Sydney facility under NSW casino laws.

Among the most serious allegations is the Star board’s apparent neglect to act in 2018 on two confidential reports from KPMG detailing key failures in its anti-money laudnering and counter-terrorism financing procedures.

The reports found the company had not properly vetted wealthy Chinese high-rollers it brought in via junkets, such as the notorious Sun City canvassed in the Crown hearings.

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