The Star cops $100M fine as NSW licence suspended

Sydney, Australia - February 12, 2012: Big letters spelling The Star stand outside the entrance to the recently refurbished casino and entertainment complex. Formerly known as Star City Casino, it is attempting to revamp its image into that of a premier nightlife destination.

In response to the revelations of the Bell Report, the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) has decided to suspend The Star’s licence, fine the casino giant $100 million, and appoint a manager.

In conjunction with the decision to take the disciplinary actions of suspension and pecuniary penalty, a manager has been appointed by the NICC, which will enable the casino to remain operational while The Star’s licence is suspended, according to NICC chief commissioner Philip Crawford.

The NICC has appointed Nicholas Weeks as manager until it can determine whether the matters identified during the Bell Review can be rectified and whether the NICC believes it is likely that The Star can achieve suitability.

The suspension would come into effect Friday 21 October 9.00am when Weeks starts in the role.

As manager, Weeks will have full control of and responsibility for the Sydney casino business, however, it is expected he will work closely with management of The Star Entertainment Group.

“The NICC has resolved that it is no longer in the public interest that The Star should remain in control of that licence, and that The Star is not currently suitable to be the holder of the licence,” Crawford explained.

“The Star’s current board and executive understand the gravity of Bell’s findings. They have publicly apologised and acknowledged the serious wrongdoing that occurred, and they are willing to co-operate with the regulator.

“The Star’s public communications to shareholders and its submission to the NICC’s show cause notice have demonstrated genuine contrition and a desire to work openly and transparently with the NICC to try to preserve the licence and protect the many jobs that depend on it being operable.

“If it were not for The Star’s change in attitude and our belief that it is in the public interest to protect the thousands of jobs at risk, there might have been a different outcome.”

Crawford said he is hopeful incoming CEO Robbie Cooke can apply his experience and leadership skills to guide the company towards suitability under the direction of the manager.

He said the appointment of Weeks will allow casino operations to continue and his primary focus will be to ensure a robust root cause analysis and review of the casino’s culture is undertaken, but stressed that Weeks’ appointment does not mean the NICC believes The Star is suitable to hold a casino licence.

“At this point the NICC believes there is a possibility The Star can undertake the reforms necessary to give the NICC confidence it can start a remediation process with a view to becoming suitable,” Crawford concluded.

The Star has released a statement confirming it received written notice from the NICC about these penalties and said its staff will not be affected by Weeks’ appointment.

Earlier this month, a review by Queensland’s attorney-general found Star Entertainment Group was also unsuitable to hold a licence in Queensland. 

The call was based on the independent external review of the casino’s operations in Queensland by The Honourable Robert Gotterson AO, and the findings in the Bell Review in NSW, and made public by the Queensland Government yesterday.

Fentiman said the company will be issued with a show cause notice as to why it should continue operating in Queensland by the state’s casino regulator.

Featured image: iStock/kokkai

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