Sydney’s Star casino ‘unfit to operate’

Star Entertainment Group faces severe penalties, including the possible loss of its Sydney casino licence, after a scathing report found it repeatedly breached the law, misled banks and was infiltrated by criminal elements for years.

The report, released on Tuesday after a months-long royal commission-style inquiry by the NSW gaming regulator, found the casino group was unsuitable to hold a licence.

The newly established NSW Independent Casino Commission said it had issued a show cause notice, forcing the casino group to explain within 14 days why it should not face disciplinary action.

Revocation of the casino licence and the issuing of fines are among the options.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Chief Commissioner Philip Crawford told reporters while noting the majority of the 8000 employees “were doing the right thing”.

“It’s not a question of ‘pin the tail on the donkey’. It wasn’t one individual who was masterminding the conduct and attitude of the casino,” he said.

While some senior managers had since left, Star was still frustrating the regulator’s efforts and retained an unwillingness to be adequately transparent, Mr Crawford said.

“The institutional arrogance of this company has been breathtaking and their willingness to take risks in pursuing financial goals has been appalling,” he said.

Report author Adam Bell SC found “extremely serious governance, risk management and cultural failures” had occurred in the casino group.

In an “inherently deceptive and unethical process”, management circumvented Chinese capital flight laws and misled NAB and a foreign bank by disguising $908 million in gaming withdrawals as hotel expenses between 2013 and 2020.

The board learned of the practices in 2021, and was on notice that they and the banks had potentially been misled by management.

But it was left to the inquiry to uncover the “deeply troubling culture permeating the ranks of senior management” at Star, Mr Bell said.

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Sydney’s Star casino ‘unfit to operate’