The Star Sydney reopened for the first time in four months on Monday but it wasn’t enough to stop Star Entertainment Group’s share price tumbling by almost 23% amid media allegations the company had enabled suspected money laundering, organized crime, fraud and foreign interference.
Star shares plummeted from AU$4.27 at market close on Friday to AU$3.30 within minutes of open Monday morning, wiping more than AU$1 billion off the company’s market capitalization.
Australian media outlets The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes had published a three-way report late Sunday claiming Star, operator of The Star Sydney, The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane, has long cultivated high-roller gamblers with links to organized crime while ignoring red flags over the source of client funds.
The reports were strikingly similar to those published by the same media outlets about Crown Resorts two years ago, which ultimately sparked an inquiry in New South Wales and Royal Commissions in Victoria and Western Australia into Crown’s suitability to retain its casino licenses. The company was subsequently found unsuitable to retain its license for Crown Sydney in February this year, while the recommendations of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne are due to be handed down this week.
The Star Sydney is also due to undergo a regular review with the findings to be handed down in January 2022.
The company said Monday it was constrained from publicly discussing specific individuals named in the reports but that it would “address all allegations with relevant state and federal regulators and authorities, including Mr Adam Bell SC who is undertaking a regular review of The Star Sydney in accordance with the Casino Control Act 1992 (NSW).”
Ironically, Star’s share price crashed just hours before The Star Sydney reopened for the first time in 108 days as Sydney saw COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased.
Patrons are currently subject to mandatory mask wearing and a capacity limit of one person per four square meters in indoor areas, although those measures are expected to be dropped by 1 December.
Star also said that operating restrictions had been eased at its Queensland properties from 8 October with capacity increased to one person per two square meters.