Star Entertainment appointed former Tyro CEO, Robbie Cooke, as its new chief executive as the company eagerly awaits the decision of a review into its fitness to hold a casino licence.
Cooke’s appointment follows an exodus of senior management and board after revelations that it mislead NAB and Bank of China over its illegal use of Chinese debit cards.
It was found that the company continued to deal with a Chinese junket – even when staff broke NSW casino laws by exchanging bundles of cash from backpacks for gambling chips, The Australian reported.
Counsel assisting the inquiry headed by Adam Bell SC recommended that Star is no longer suitable to hold a licence. However, Star’s lawyers argue that the executive clean-out – including the former CEO John O’Neill – proves it is changing its operations to a point where it should be able to hold its licence.
Cooke replaces Matt Bekier, who resigned at the beginning of the inquiry in March. Interim chairman Ben Heap said that Cooke’s appointment, which remains subject to regulatory approvals, followed a global search.
“The board concluded that Robbie was the standout candidate with the ideal combination of experience, capabilities and attributes to lead The Star,” Heap said.
“Robbie is a trusted, respected and highly experienced chief executive.
“He has been the CEO of major ASX 200 listed companies and brings extensive commercial experience in operating and driving transformation programs within highly regulated environments, overseeing large workforces and building executive teams in multi-jurisdictional locations.”
Heap drew upon Cooke’s performance as CEO of the former Tatts Group’s lotteries, wagering and gaming division, as well as at Tyro where he lead the company through its financial services royal commission.
“As CEO of the lotteries, wagering and gaming operation at Tatts Group, he led a comprehensive transformation program and secured valuable licence agreements with various State governments.
“Most recently at the Australian bank and payment fintech, Tyro Payments, he led the company through the post Financial Services Industry Royal Commission environment with a focus on risk culture, cultural alignment and employee engagement whilst driving strong transaction growth from (about) $13bn to in excess of $30bn over four years.
“Robbie is well placed to lead The Star and restore confidence in the organisation. He is an outstanding choice to guide the Company through its critical ongoing renewal program, a body of work already underway that will deliver a number of near and medium-term initiatives focused on governance, culture, training, systems and technology.”
On his appointment, Cooke said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to re-join the gaming and hospitality industry, which is a passion of mine and where I have spent the majority of my career”.
“There are challenges for The Star that have been well documented. They will be my priority and focus. Ensuring continuity of the business through a comprehensive renewal program is of paramount importance,” he said.
“This is also an incredibly resilient business with thousands of team members providing the commitment, enthusiasm and inspiration that helps deliver outstanding customer service.
“Major development projects are also underway or in planning across The Star, and in south east Queensland they represent transformational opportunities for the Company and the state. It’s all the more exciting with the Olympics on their way in 2032.”