Star claims it’s fit to hold casino licence in Sydney despite ‘significant failings’

Star Entertainment accepts there have been “significant deficiencies and failings” at its Sydney casino but says it should be allowed to keep its gaming licence.

An independent review by Adam Bell SC has unearthed allegations of money laundering, fraud and criminal infiltration at the Star Casino in Pyrmont.

Today in closing submissions, lawyers for Star said the company accepted it wasn’t fit to hold a casino licence in the past but circumstances had changed.

“The Star accepts that the evidence before the review permits findings of significant deficiencies and failings,” Kate Richardson SC said.

“The persons who engaged in the misconduct are no longer with the businesses.

“The Star respectfully submits that the review should conclude that it is presently suitable to hold the casino licence.”

Since the inquiry began, there have been a string of high-profile resignations including CEO Matt Bekier, chief financial officer Harry Theodore and chief casino officer Greg Hawkins.

Mr Bekier told the inquiry he accepted that issues raised at the inquiry suggested a “significant, systemic and cultural” problem at the casino.

Ms Richardson today said it was “highly relevant” that these managers were no longer with Star.

“The character and integrity of a corporate entity, namely its suitability will be informed by the character and integrity of those who control its affairs” she said.

“While it is accepted that parting ways is not enough, the fact those managers are no longer with the business is highly relevant.

“It sends a powerful message to all employees at the company as to what the board will and will not countenance.

“The departures set the standard of behaviour expected of all the Star’s people and in particular, its most senior people.”

Kate Richardson
Star’s barrister Kate Richardson SC is arguing the company is fit to retain its gaming licence.(Supplied: Banco Chambers)

The admission of failings comes on the same day the Queensland government announced an independent probe into Star Entertainment’s suitability to hold casino licences in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Late last month counsel assisting the NSW inquiry Naomi Sharp SC gave a scathing assessment of Star, saying there had been “unethical behaviour” in the legal team and “very serious failures” in risk management.

She argued Star was unsuitable to operate a casino and a change of management wasn’t enough to overcome critical code of conduct requirements.

Next week, non-executive directors of Star Entertainment will have the chance to make submissions to the inquiry.

Later this month NSW cabinet is expected to sign off on a conditional casino licence that would allow Crown Resorts to open the gaming floors of its $2.2 billion Barangaroo skyscraper.

This is despite the state’s gaming watchdog finding Crown unsuitable to hold a licence only 15 months ago.

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