Crown Resorts may be officially out of the junket business but its main rival in the Australian casino market is not so sure.
Speaking to reporters at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new hotel tower at The Star Gold Coast on Friday, Star Entertainment Group Chairman John O’Neill confirmed that his company is “out of the junket business until further notice” but didn’t rule out rekindling relationships in the future.
His comments follow a series of recommendations within the Bergin Report, released last week, which found Crown currently unsuitable to hold a NSW casino license for its AU$2.2 billion (US$1.6 billion) Crown Sydney development.
The report also recommended the formation of a new regulatory authority and a permanent ban on casinos operating in the state from dealing with junkets, although it is up to the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to determine which recommendations it implements.
As reported by the Gold Coast Bulletin, O’Neill said Friday that Star would adopt a “wait and see” attitude on junkets but noted its reliance on international VIP had been declining in recent years anyway.
“The VIP business out of China, even pre-COVID, was coming off in any case, so there’s no financial impact on us,” he said.
O’Neill also made it clear that, “The inquiry was about Crown, the inquiry wasn’t about us,” but added dialogue with the ILGA will continue as the regulator determines how to move forward with the Bergin Report’s recommendations.
“That dialogue will continue as ILGA absorbs the Bergin inquiry recommendations,” he said.
“There will be, obviously, some ramifications for the industry, so in that context, we’ll be talking to [Authority Chair] Philip Crawford about what is intended and what ILGA’s going to accept and the time frame in which they’re going to execute those recommendations.”
While The Star Sydney may be directly impacted by the Bergin Report, there appears to be little direct threat in Queensland where the company operates The Star Gold Coast and is developing AU$3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf Brisbane alongside Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium.
Asked about the report at the same ceremony on Friday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said, “That’s a NSW issue. I don’t know how it would have any impact on Queensland.”