15 Matt Bekier
MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CEO
Star Entertainment Group
POWER SCORE: 1,365
POSITION LAST YEAR: 20
CLAIMS TO FAME
Has seen Star overtake rival Crown as Australia’s leading VIP operator
Implemented strategic partnerships with Asia’s Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium in bid to conquer lucrative Chinese market
Once considered a distant little brother to Crown Resorts in Australia’s burgeoning casino market, Star Entertainment Group added a stunning notch to its belt in late 2017 when it overtook Crown for the first time as the VIP venue of choice for international players heading Down Under.
Aided by Crown’s self-implosion in China, which proved troublesome for all Australian operators but most starkly for Crown itself, Star last year booked VIP turnover of AU$30.9 billion in the six months to 31 December 2017 compared to just AU$22.6 billion by its southern rival. That trend has only continued through 2018, with Star announcing FY18 VIP turnover of AU$61.2 billion to maintain its lead over Crown with AU$51.5 billion.
Across the board, Star Entertainment Group saw normalized revenue rise 15.3% in the year ended 30 June 2018 – continuing the upward trend that has been a staple of Managing Director and CEO Matt Bekier’s reign since taking on the top job in 2014.
But most notable is just how active Bekier’s Star has been in aggressively expanding its Australian footprint.
Fresh from an AU$1 billion refurbishment of flagship property The Star Sydney just a few short years ago, the company is in the process of injecting the same amount again, including the addition of a new AU$500 million luxury Ritz-Carlton tower and an AU$220 million upgrade of its high-end Sovereign Room.
In March, The Star Gold Coast celebrated the launch of its own new luxury suite hotel, The Darling – part of a comprehensive AU$850 million redevelopment and featuring VIP gaming, premium resort facilities and a rooftop restaurant and bar alongside an infinity edge pool. Plans are in motion to add as many as four more hotel towers in the coming years.
And excavation works have now also begun at Star’s AU$3.5 billion Queen’s Wharf Development in Brisbane – a massive IR project that will transform the entire cityscape once complete in 2022 and tipped to attract an extra 1.4 million visitors per year.
Notably, the company’s Queen’s Wharf partners – Hong Kong giants Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium – have now become equity partners in The Star in a move Bekier says “better aligns the interests of The Star’s strategic joint venture partners with the long-term growth and financial performance of The Star.”
For the full list of 2018 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.