On the third day of the ongoing inquiry into Star Entertainment’s operations, investigators heard that the gambling operator permitted a patron suspended from casinos in two other Australian states and allegedly associated with the Italian mafia to continue gambling in its Queensland venues for years.
According to evidence given during the hearing, the man turned into one of the top 10 players at the company’s casino on the Gold Coast after he was suspended from the Crown Melbourne casino in 2014, and then, seven months later, the police in New South Wales (NSW) barred him from entering The Star Sydney.
The ongoing inquiry into the fitness of Star Entertainment to hold a casino licence for its operations in Queensland also heard that media reports of the Sydney Morning Herald alleged the player of links to the Italian mafia but the claims did not trigger proactive behaviour of the company’s casino operations in the state to ban the player. As it was revealed, the company decided not to suspend the man from its Queensland operations because he had not been charged with any crime.
Howard Steiner, the anti-money laundering general manager of Star Entertainment, shared with the investigators that the player in question would have been subject to a suspension under the current policies of the Australian gambling giant. He further explained that the previous appetite for risk culture does not exist in the company today.
Special Incentives and Casino Trips Granted to a High-Roller Customer
The inquiry’s assisting counsel, Jonathan Horton, asked Star Entertainment’s anti-money laundering general manager about how the AML team of the gambling operator had been able to make sure whether a female casino patron had been banned by the police of New South Wales, considering the fact that it was not subscribed to the media hub that had reported it.
According to Mr Steiner, this was an indicator that what he called an “operational sclerosis” might have existed at the time, but the current AML program of Star Entertainment did not feature such flaws.
The ongoing inquiry also heard how the Australian casino company struggled to confirm the identities of banned individuals because their names were spent differently in different media reports. Apart from that, Mr Steiner shared that he was unaware that Star Entertainment had the obligation to report whenever it gave gifts worth up to AU$50,000 to individual customers.
The investigation found that a high-roller customer that was previously suspended from a Sydney casino was flown to the state of Queensland on a private jet in October 2019 and December 2020, not to mention they received an AU$50,000 Rolex watch as a birthday gift by the company for their loyalty to its casino on the Gold Coast, and a custom birthday cake.
When asked whether cash gifts worth no more than AU$20,000 given by the Australian gambling giant to some of its patrons would attract the company’s anti-money laundering team’s attention, he confessed that no such thing would generally happen, and explained that the operator had gift procedures and policies but it was the individual casino departments were the ones making decisions regarding the discretionary comps.
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.