The NSW casino siteleri regulator has taken the unprecedented step of suspending Star Entertainment’s Sydney casino licence as well as slapping a record $100 million fine on the embattled company.
NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) chief commissioner Philip Crawford announced the hefty penalty, casino siteleri saying the Pyrmont venue could continue to trade under a licence held by a manager.
“We’ve decided to impose a fine of $100 million on The Star and secondly, to suspend The Star’s casino licence,” he told reporters on Monday.
The suspension is effective from Friday.
Mr Crawford says it’s the first time a casino siteleri suspension has been imposed in NSW.
“It’s giving a real message to the industry that gambling in this country is not illegal but it’s got to be done by certain rules,” he said.
The NICC last month released a scathing report by Adam Bell, SC, that found The Star unfit to hold a casino licence after an inquiry identified a litany of compliance failures.
These included a notorious gang-linked junket operator running an illicit cage at the casino and Chinese debit card transactions being disguised as hotel expenses.
The penalties imposed would be felt, but the conclusion of the issue meant The Star could now look to the future, new chief executive Robbie Cooke told AAP on Monday.
“It’s just brought some certainty to the business,” he said.
One “pleasing aspect” was that Star could continue to operate.
“Which means we can continue to keep our full team engaged,” he said.
Some 8000 employees will remain, and The Star appreciated the commission was preserving their jobs, casino siteleri Mr Cooke said.
Nick Weeks of Wexted Advisors has been appointed as manager to ensure the casino stays open and staff remain employed.
Without his appointment, thousands of The Star employees would have lost their jobs.
“At this point, the commission did not consider this to be in the public interest,” Mr Crawford said.
The manager’s initial stay is for 90 days and can be extended.
Net earnings from gambling will be remitted to staff.
“We’re not setting this managership up on the basis that it’s likely to fail. We want it to succeed,” Mr Crawford said.
He said the harsh penalties were imposed because he was not satisfied with The Star’s reform plan.
NSW parliament last month passed laws boosting the maximum penalty to $100 million, up from $1 million.
Mr Cooke said it’s a very significant fine that hurts the business and “focuses the corporate mind”.
“(It) really puts us in a position where we would never ever want to have this happen again,” he said.
It has achieved the goal of punishing the casino for its past behaviour without terminating its future, he said.
Mr Crawford said urgent “root cause analysis” was needed before any serious discussion of regaining the licence could begin.
“The social contract was breached very badly … and now it’s up to them (The Star) to … restore that confidence,” he said.
“Without leadership, this remediation plan is probably useless.”
Mr Cooke said the company will do everything humanly possible to regain trust, including fixing its culture.
“Creating the right environment to encourage the right behaviour and ensure that what’s happened never happens again, and we rebuild the business to have the highest level of integrity – that’s the focus,” he said.
Hospitality and Racing Minister Kevin Anderson backed the NICC’s tough measures on Monday, saying the regulatory body “has the full support of the NSW government”.
Star Entertainment Group’s shares closed at $2.64 on the ASX on Monday, up 1.54 per cent.