The senior lawyer whose grilling of Crown Resorts during last year’s Bergin inquiry saw the company stripped of its New South Wales casino license has been appointed to conduct a regular review into the state’s existing casino, The Star Sydney.
Adam Bell SC, who was lead senior counsel assisting the Bergin Inquiry into Crown Resorts’ Sydney casino, has been asked by the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) to examine how effectively The Star is complying with its statutory obligations and whether it remains suitable to hold a casino licence.
Although the state’s Casino Control Act requires The Star to face a license review every five years, with the last conducted in 2016, Bell’s appointment leaves no doubt as to what this latest review will be looking for.
“These reviews are carried out with the co-operation of the casino operator to ensure the casino remains free from criminal influence or exploitation and doesn’t cause harm to the public interest,” said ILGA chair Philip Crawford.
“Mr Bell was the lead senior counsel assisting the Bergin Inquiry into Crown Resorts’ Barangaroo casino and, as such, has extensive knowledge of casino regulatory matters in NSW including the issues of concern identified in the Bergin Report.
“This experience provides Mr Bell with a deep understanding of the current casino landscape which will be invaluable for this role.”
While Crown was found unsuitable to retain its Crown Sydney license in February and could face a similar fate in Melbourne and Perth, Star Entertainment Group has so far emerged unscathed from a heightened focus on the industry.
However, the NSW Government declared in August that it would support all 19 recommendations from the Bergin Report, including establishment of an independent casino regulator and a greater focus on addressing money laundering risks.
The findings of Bell’s review into The Star Sydney will be handed down in January 2022.