September 13, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

The independent review into casino The Star Sydney commissioned by the NSW government through its Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) has found The Star is unsuitable to hold a casino licence in New South Wales.

The report was put together by Adam Bell SC, who oversaw the review of The Star through late 2021 and into 2022. The review included 46 days of public hearings between March and June this year. The report was given to the newly formed NSW Independent Casino Commission, headed up by Philip Crawford, who is also a board member of the ILGA.

“We’ve been considering what went wrong and Bell considered what went wrong and it’s a very hard and complex question to answer,” said Crawford at a press conference this morning.

“It’s not a question of pin the tail on the donkey – there’s no one individual who was masterminding the conduct and attitude of The Star casino in operating its casino licence.

“The company too often – and this a repeating theme throughout the report – seemed to be asking not whether something they were looking at doing was appropriate but how they could do it. Not whether it was the right thing to do but how could they find a way to do it.”

Crawford said the company behind The Star had allowed money laundering and organised crime to occur through the casino.

“The institutional arrogance of this company has been breathtaking,” he said.

“Our major concern with regard to The Star remains its culture. There doesn’t seem to be any short-term fix.”

Within the report itself, Bell has written: “The Star treated the [NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming] Authority with disdain, as an impediment to be worked around.”

“Show cause” notice issued

The Star has been given two weeks to respond to a “show cause” notice which asks the company to demonstrate why it should not have disciplinary action taken against it.

The report into the review of The Star does not make any recommendations about next steps as this was not in the scope of the inquiry, but Crawford said that “doing nothing is not an option” considering the contents of the findings.

Possible disciplinary actions include cancellation or suspension of The Star’s casino licence and up to $100 million in fines, with Crawford saying “they’re all on the table”.

Crawford urged The Star Entertainment Group to show leadership in its next steps.

“About 8,000 people work for this company – all of them would be concerned about their jobs and most of them were not involved in any inappropriate behaviour,” he said.

Rejection of suitability submissions

The Star Entertainment Group which operates The Star in Sydney, as well as The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane, as well as soon-to-open The Star Brisbane in the near-complete multi-billion-dollar Queen’s Wharf development, admitted to the review that it had not been suitable to operate the casino but that it believed it now was. However, in his report, Bell rejected The Star’s eight submissions which asserted its current suitability.

The Star publicly acknowledged receipt of the report today after requesting a trading halt yesterday in light of early media coverage of the impending report, and confirmed it intended to respond to the “show cause” notice.

The Star oversees considerable event space and luxury accommodation across its properties in New South Wales and Queensland.

In Queensland an external review of The Star Entertainment Group is also underway, commissioned by the state government.