Queensland’s gaming regulator, the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, will launch an internal investigation into allegations that casino operator Star Entertainment Group enabled suspected money laundering, organized crime, fraud and foreign interference.
However, the state will stop short of conducting a Royal Commission, claiming instead that the outcome of Royal Commissions into fellow casino operator Crown Resorts in Victoria and Western Australia, and a regular review of The Star Sydney currently underway in NSW, would provide sufficient guidance.
The new investigation comes in the wake of media reports aired Sunday night, which alleged Star had cultivated high-roller gamblers with links to organized crime while ignoring red flags over the source of client funds. Star’s Queensland casinos include The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane, while it is currently developing the AU$3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf Brisbane project alongside Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Queensland Attorney General Shannon Fentiman said, “The allegations of money laundering and integrity issues are very serious, and the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation are undertaking appropriate investigations, along with the Queensland Police and AUSTRAC.
“The investigation will consider the appropriateness and effectiveness of Star’s due diligence processes in relation to anti-money laundering and how the Star approaches exclusions to ensure people are excluded from all properties where appropriate.
“The government will be considering the outcomes of the various inquiries carefully and will make any necessary changes to the regulatory framework.”
Former Australian regulator and now gaming consultant David Green told Inside Asian Gaming that a regular review into The Star Sydney’s casino license currently being undertaken by Adam Bell SC – the same man who acted as lead senior counsel assisting the Bergin Inquiry into Crown in NSW last year – may be sufficient in NSW although a Royal Commission isn’t out of the question.
Star has described the assertions made in this week’s media reports as “misleading”, adding that it will “address all allegations with relevant state and federal regulators and authorities,” including Bell.