Star: We will do “whatever is necessary” to stay open after damning report
These comments came in response to the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Casino Commission’s (NICC) “show cause” notice, which was issued to The Star alongside the Bell report earlier this month. A show cause notice outlines full details of an offence, allowing the offending party to explain the offences themselves.
The Bell report showcased a catalogue of failures at The Star, including an alarming number of anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings. The Star was ultimately ruled to be unsuitable to operate in Sydney as a result.
Heap said that as a result of the report, The Star had altered how it operates, changing aspects that were highlighted in the report.
“The Star Entertainment Group (TSEG) and The Star Sydney accept the findings of the Bell Report, including the finding of unsuitability,” said Heap. “TSEG and The Star Sydney also acknowledge the gravity of the conduct which is raised in the Bell Report.”
“TSEG has taken significant and urgent remedial steps, including increased risk, compliance, and security staff, approval of upgrades to surveillance technology as well as permanently exiting junkets and closing the Marquee nightclub.”
The report had revealed The Star’s extensive relationship with junkets – specifically junket operator SunCity. In one instance, The Star staff were documented on security cameras giving large amounts of money to SunCity representatives.
Heap also revealed that TSEG has created a multi-year plan to fix remaining issues, and has asked the NICC to remain open so the plan can be executed.
“TSEG has developed a comprehensive remediation plan for a multi-year transformation of the governance, accountability and capabilities, culture, and risk and compliance management practices of the organisation – we intend to do whatever is necessary, in consultation with NICC, to restore The Star Sydney to suitability,” said Heap. “TSEG plans to conclude the plan by end of 2024.”
“We submit that the appropriate action NICC should take is to allow TSEG to continue to operate the licence, under strict supervision and being held accountable to the milestones on the remediation plan.”
The plan covers nine aspects of failure highlighted in the report: governance, people, culture, risk and compliance management, financial crime, safer gambling, investigations, technology and data and communication.
“Significant” technology upgrades will feature in the plan. This will be part of a move to cashless gaming, which is now required under amendments to the NSW Casino Control Act.
In addition, The Star will deploy underage prevention technology and face-to-photo verification, which will be implemented by the end of November.
It consists of 130 milestones, 8 of which have already been completed. The Star is aiming for another 29 to be completed by the end of December this year.
Yesterday (26 September), Geoff Hogg resigned as The Star’s acting chief executive after four months – making him the third CEO to resign this year.