Australian casino operator The Star Entertainment Group Ltd has been given a “six-month deadline” to regain the licence for its flagship Sydney casino, or face the possibility of closure, reported on Wednesday The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper.
The Star’s licence for its flagship Sydney casino (pictured) was suspended “indefinitely” from October 21 last year, and placed under state-government supervision, said at the time the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission (NICC). The casino operator was also fined AUD100 million (US$65.8 million) by state authorities.
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted a NICC spokesperson as saying that The Star now has six months to prove it can operate the casino independently.
“The NICC is not satisfied The Star has reached a point where the licence suspension can be lifted and it can run its casino without the supervision of the manager,” the spokesperson reportedly said.
“If they can’t prove they are capable of operating with a conditional licence over the next six months, the manager will be retired, and the doors will close,” the person told the media outlet.
The decision on The Star’s gaming licence suspension in Sydney followed a damning regulatory report. In September 2022, it had been made public that a report by lawyer Adam Bell – following a lengthy public inquiry – had found The Star “unsuitable” to hold its New South Wales licence.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Wednesday report said the NICC comments were the first public indication that the Star Sydney is at risk of its casino operations being shut down by the state’s regulator as early as next year.
The Australia-listed casino firm told the market last month that the NICC had notified the company that the term of the government-appointed manager to oversee the gaming operations would be extended to June 30 next year, “unless earlier terminated by the NICC”.
“The NICC has advised The Star that the NICC intends for this to be the final extension of the manager’s term,” the company observed.
It added: “The proposed extension is to give The Star additional time to satisfy the NICC that it is capable of undertaking the remedial action required for it to become suitable and be permitted to return to gaming in accordance with the provisions of the Sydney casino licence.”
The Star has revamped its compliance regime and has overhauled its board and chief executive since the review.
The newspaper also quoted a spokesperson for Star Sydney as saying that the group continued focused on its transformation. “We know the implementation of the remediation plan in NSW and Queensland requires the utmost rigour and discipline,” the person stated
The Star’s casino licences in the Australian state of Queensland have also been suspended, and its properties there placed under state-government supervision.
The company currently operates two Queensland casinos: The Treasury Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast; and is building a third, the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane scheme, with partnership from two Hong Kong-based businesses: Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd, and Far East Consortium International Ltd. The latter venue is expected to open in phases from April 2024.
The Queensland regulator has also extended the terms of its independent manager to give The Star more time to undertake the necessary remediation steps.
Queensland’s regulatory authorities recently approved The Star’s remediation plan, but extended the term of the special manager for The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane casinos by 12 months, to December 8, 2024.
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