The Interim Chairman of embattled Australian casino operator Star Entertainment Group said Thursday the company would embark on a multi-year “Renewal Plan” in a bid to transform operations and salvage its casino license for The Star Sydney.
In a lengthy note to shareholders filed with the ASX on Thursday, Heap acknowledged and apologized for the company’s past failures, outlined in the Bell Report this week, after Star was deemed unsuitable to retain its license in the wake of the recent review into The Star Sydney’s operations. The NSW Independent Casino Commission will issue its ruling once Star responds to the report in the coming weeks.
“We are developing and will implement a comprehensive remediation plan, which we refer to as our Renewal Plan, to serve as the company’s integrated roadmap for improving our governance, culture and controls,” Heap said.
“We will not only fix the issues raised in the Report but will examine and address their root causes. Given the extent and breadth of the issues raised, our Renewal Plan is a multi-year plan, to fully address and embed the fundamental changes required in all aspects of our business.
“Examples of actions we’ve taken to date include introducing stronger controls, enhancing our regulatory compliance functions and training, adding new members to our Board, rebuilding our senior leadership team, separating our Risk and Legal functions, hiring a new Chief Risk Officer, and voluntarily appointing an Independent Monitor to oversee our progress.
“We acknowledge there is much more to be done and we will do it working constructively and transparently with the NSW Independent Casino Commission, our other regulators, and our Independent Monitor.”
Confirming that Star is already working on its response to the Bell Report, Heap said the company needed to overhaul its culture after it was found to have deliberately employed illegal tactics to dodge regulatory supervision.
Among the processes highlighted by the Bell Report were the illlegal use of China UnionPay cards to fund gambling at The Star Sydney, Star’s dealing with Asian junket operator Suncity Group and paying another Macau-based junket operator to disguise customer deposits with the Bank of China, Macau branch.
“We need more transparency, more robust governance and greater accountability,” Heap said. “At its heart, we need to be a workplace where our team members feel free to raise concerns, where we have open and honest dialogue with our regulators and Independent Monitor, and where our leadership is both vigilant and listens when concerns are raised.
“We need to ask not only ‘Can we?’, but ‘Should we?’, and act swiftly where there is an issue. I accept that there have been times we’ve been arrogant and closed off to criticism. That will not be the case in the future.
“Our goal is to earn back your trust and the trust and confidence of the NSW Independent Casino Commission, and indeed all our regulators. I recognise that we won’t by judged by our words, but by our actions. You have my commitment, and that of my fellow directors and senior management team, that we will do everything in our power to make the necessary improvements.”