Earlier this week, gambling industry insiders have noted that the inquiry into the Star Entertainment Group and its operations in the state of Queensland should have scrutinised the state’s casino regulatory body.
For a week, executives of Star Entertainment have been giving sworn evidence to the commission that leads the investigation into the operation of the gambling company’s casino licences in the Gold Coast and Brisbane and is trying to determine whether the company is suitable to hold the operating permits in question.
During the hearings, the operator admitted that it should have never made it possible for suspicious affluent gamblers, who had been suspended from casinos in other states, to play in its Queensland casinos or allowed them to mask large sums as accommodation expenses to be later spent on gambling using a Chinese bank card.
Over the past week, the inquiry into the company heard that the anti-money laundering procedures at the Star Entertainment casino operations were seriously deficient. Apart from that, the company faced allegations of links between Chow Tai Fook, the Australian gambling giant’s partner in its new casino development in Brisbane, and criminal organisations. Currently, those allegations are being investigated by the State Government.
Queensland Government Urged to Broaden Scope of the Inquiry but Refuses to Do So
The Office of Gaming and Liquor Regulation – the body that is responsible for the oversight of Queensland casinos – has not been part of the aforementioned public hearings, as its staff members have not been asked to give evidence regarding the actions they took against the gambling operator’s wrongdoings.
The shadow Attorney-General of Queensland, Tim Nicholls, reminded that the Commissioner is not given the power to call for evidence, so it is the Government that needs to act further and broaden the scope of the investigation.
David Green, a casino regulation consultant, questioned why the investigation featured only a few days of public hearings and evidence and noted that the duration of the inquiry suggested that the competent bodies had never intended to get in-depth knowledge of the facts and situation. His concern was supported by the Macau casino consultant Ben Lee, who previously worked in the Australian gambling sector. According to Mr Lee, not making the actions of the local gambling regulatory body subject to detailed scrutiny could mean that certain potential flaws in the system are left unattended and unaddressed, and this would be unprofessional.
As Casino Guardian previously reported, the Palaszczuk Government was urged to expand the scope of the investigation into the Queensland operations of the Star Entertainment after the state’s gambling regulatory body confirmed that it was investigating some new allegations regarding the conduct of Cairns- and Townsville-based casinos. Eventually, the calls for the Government to broaden the inquiry have been turned down by Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman, who noted that the actions that have already been taken were sufficient for the investigators.
According to Attorney-General Fentiman, the conduct of the Australian gambling giant in the states of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland was a matter of great concern and raised questions regarding the company’s suitability to hold its licences and operate its casinos. That was exactly the reason why the review and suitability investigation into the Star Entertainment was initiated.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.