Australia’s Star Entertainment Group faces a second inquiry after the Queensland state government announced on Tuesday that it will hold its own investigation into the casino operator’s suitability.
On the same day as Star commenced closing submissions to public hearings into its suitability in New South Wales, home of The Star Sydney, Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman confirmed that an independent review would also take place into the company’s operations at The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane.
“The Palaszczuk Government takes the allegations of money laundering and integrity issues very seriously,” Fentiman said, referencing the findings of the NSW inquiry. “Investigations by the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation into The Star are ongoing, and they are continuing to work with the Queensland Police and AUSTRAC.
“There will also be an independent expert review into the suitability of The Star to keep its casino licence.”
The Attorney-General did, however, offer a glimmer of hope to Star – which is due to open its massive AU$3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf development in Brisbane next year – by insisting the government is not looking to shutter the company’s Queensland operations.
“I’m not going to pre-empt any of the findings of a review, but even if a casino is found to not be suitable there are things we can put in place provisionally to make sure they do meet all the expectations of the regulator and the community,” Fentiman said.
Queensland’s inquiry, she added, would take into account the findings in NSW with investigations already well underway by the Queensland police and the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulator (OLGR).
“We’re basically going to accept the finding of the Bell Inquiry in New South Wales. OLGR have now got to the point in their investigations where they do think that we do need an independent expert review to look at the ongoing suitability of Star to hold a casino license [in Queensland]. The terms of reference and public hearings and compulsion powers will be released next week,” she said.