Star halts ASX trading as media report claims NSW casino licence at risk

| By Robert Fletcher
Star Entertainment Group has suspended trading on the Australian Securities Exchange after a media report over the weekend claimed the operator could lose its casino licence in New South Wales (NSW).

The operator is currently the subject of a licence suitability review by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority after concerns were raised about Star Sydney’s interactions with junkets and money laundering prevention measures.

The review launched in September last year and is nearing its final stages, with NSW’s parliament having last month passed a bill creating a new land-based regulator for the state to consider the findings of the review.

However, ahead of the publication of the report, The Australian newspaper reported over the weekend that the review found Star should lose its licence in NSW unless it overhauled its board and puts in place compliance reform. 

The newspaper also reported that the review, led by Adam Bell SC, was put to officials in the state earlier this month ahead of its public release, which could take place as early as tomorrow (13 September).

In response, Star said it had not received a copy of the report and is unaware of its contents but understood the report would be released in the coming days.

Star also submitted a request to the Australian Securities Exchange for an immediate trading halt on its ordinary shares. The operator said this was necessary as otherwise trading in securities may take place in an “uninformed market”.

“The Star requests that the trading halt remain in place until the earlier time of the public release of the report referred to above and the commencement of trading on Wednesday 14 September 2022,” Star said.

“The Star is not aware of any reason why the trading halt should not be granted, nor is it aware of any other information required to be provided to the market or ASX in relation to the trading halt.”

The review in NSW is in addition to a similar process in Queensland, which in June said that it would launch an independent review into Star to assess the operator’s suitability to hold a casino licence in the state.

Investigations into Star by the state’s police and casino regulator had been ongoing, but Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman announced the review would also take place due to concerns over money laundering and integrity.

Fentiman said investigations would continue while the independent review takes place. Star currently operates The Star Gold Coast land-based casino in Queensland.

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