MANAGING DIRECTOR AND CEO
Star Entertainment Group
POWER SCORE: 1,110
POSITION LAST YEAR: 18
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Leading aggressive growth strategy in key Sydney and Queensland markets
- Implemented strategic partnerships with Asia’s Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium
AUSTRALIAN CASINOS have taken a big hit from the pandemic and the loss of Chinese VIPs, but The Star Entertainment Group rode the storm better than rival Crown Resorts thanks to lesser lockdown restrictions and a charmed life relatively free of regulatory hostility – at least until recently.
If anything, Star’s profile has improved compared with Crown, which now risks losing licences for its casinos thanks to Royal Commission probes in two states.
CEO Matt Bekier has been the face of optimism and endurance in the face of these unprecedented challenges.
And these qualities seemed to serve Star well as it rebounded from closures and junket bans, posting decent numbers, maintaining expansion plans and preparing to sell an interest in its Sydney precinct.
For a time, Star even offered to take over Crown, before the gravity of the Crown Melbourne probe emerged.
But what seemed like a blessed run has been upended by the same investigative media team that more or less single-handedly destroyed Crown’s reputation.
Reports by Nine Newspapers and 60 Minutes have alleged that Star has not only been failing compliance benchmarks in a manner similar to Crown, but that it also kept highly critical internal reports commissioned from KPMG from the New South Wales gaming regulator. Star has denied the allegations.
How Bekier and his team handle the fallout will determine the future of Star for years to come. For now, his team is using the same aggressive strategy as Crown in striking back rather than conciliating, likely auguring a high-stakes, if not zero-sum, fight with government and public opinion.
For the full list of 2021 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.