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Star Entertainment Group finally learned the penalties resulting from the investigation into its operational practices. The NSW Independent Casino Commission has levied a record fine of A$100m and has suspended the casino’s licence. Furthermore, a special manager will operate the casino for the next 90 days to ensure that the casino can adhere to the guidelines necessary to remain open.
The NSW Independent Casino Commission issued penalties against Star Entertainment Group last week. After finding the casino is unfit for a license, the regulator hit the company with a record A$100m fine. The company’s licence is also temporarily suspended.
For the next 90 days, the Commission will assign Nick Weeks of Wexsted Advisors to control the company’s casino. He will ensure the casino can adhere to the regulations necessary to remain open. The regulator had the option of revoking Star’s licence but chose not to do so.
According to NSICC chair Philip Crawford, the casino is showing a willingness to reform its ways. Also, revoking the licence will result in thousands of employees losing jobs. According to Crawford, “A big issue for us, to be frank, in this environment is that there is probably about 10,000 employees of the Star casino, and a lot of them rely on the income to pay their mortgages and raise their kids.”
While the fine against Star is a record for NSW, some feel that it is insufficient punishment for the company’s wrongdoings. One such person that feels that way is Monash University gambling researcher Charles Livingston.
Livingston believes that the penalties are “not adequate.” He says that “One hundred million is a lot of money for anybody, but for a casino – it’s more than a slap on the wrist, but it’s not enough to dissuade this kind of behaviour.”
He also points to the $100m fine that Victoria imposed on Crown Resorts. According to Livingston, the casino “didn’t blink” at the fine. He also questions what a casino has to do to actually lose a licence in either region.
Livingston is also surprised at the lack of legal accountability from anyone at Star Entertainment. He states, “If we committed the equivalent as private citizens, we’d be in the big house, but no one seems to be held accountable.”
Not surprisingly, one supporter of the regulator’s decision is NSW premier Dominic Perrottet. He supports the decision and believes the regulator will not move to reinstate Star’s licence until they are compliant.
According to Perrottet, “We’re not going to have a situation where any corporation in our state does not follow the rules and regulations that are in place. What today clearly demonstrates is that the processes that we have in place are incredibly strong, that we have a strong regulator, and the decision today I welcome.
My expectation is that obviously the licence won’t be renewed until circumstances are in place where they comply, and that’s what they should be doing.”
While Star knows what to expect in NSW, they are still working out their legal matters in Queensland. Queensland regulators have found the company unfit to hold a casino license. They are now waiting for the company to answer a show-cause notice.
Furthermore, legislation is being considered to place a special manager in charge of Star’s Brisbane and Gold Coast casinos. We feel it is unlikely that the casino will have its licence revoked. Instead, we expect similar penalties will be issued in Queensland as has been the case in NSW and Victoria.