Queensland Government rejected the calls to expand a public inquiry into a variety of integrity issues in state casinos, although new allegations of illegal high-roller gambling operations were unveiled.
Recently, Tim Costello, a long-time gambling reform and anti-gambling campaigner has called on the Palaszczuk Government to broaden the external review into the casino and include luxury casinos in Cairns and Townsville in the probe, after it was revealed that the venues in question are suspected of luring affluent Asian gamblers through underground agents.
Under existing Queensland laws, junket operators (or so-called junkets) are not allowed to operate without previously being vetted and approved by the State Government. The measure has been adopted as part of the Government’s policy to prevent the infiltration of crime into the local gambling sector.
During the weekend, a number of local media hubs reported that Lawrence Fu, a Melbourne restaurateur who had not received official approval as a junket operator, has been allegedly engaged in the delivery of gamblers to the aforementioned casinos in return for cash and betting vouchers.
As previously reported by Casino Guardian, the ongoing investigations into the venues of Star Entertainment in the Gold Coast and Brisbane encouraged the Queensland Government to roll out an external review into the suitability of the Australian gambling giant to hold casino operating permits. The hearings started last week.
The first sessions of the inquiry into the venues of Star Entertainment in Queensland heard that the gambling giant concealed funds from Chinese high-roller gamblers as room charges, and offered various inducements to a suspected criminal who had been suspended from interstate casinos. Previously, a similar investigation into the Sydney casino of the company heard damning allegations of fraud, criminal infiltration and money laundering.
Two Luxury Casinos in Cairns and Townsville Should Be Included in the Probe, Campaigners Say
The aforementioned investigation does not include The Ville Resort-Casino situated in Townsville and owned by Chris Morris, or the Cairns-based Reef Hotel Casino owned by Accor and Casinos Austria International.
As Clancy Moore, the chief executive officer of Transparency International, explained, the Queensland inquiry must be expanded to the two above-mentioned gambling properties and determine the extent to which the authorities were ready to turn a blind eye on suspicious behaviour. However, the office of Shannon Fentiman, the state’s Attorney-General, revealed there were no such plans. A spokesperson reminded that the Independent Expert Review is aimed at looking into Star Entertainment and its associates.
Instead, it was revealed that the gaming regulatory body of Queensland would take the allegations against the Cairns and Townsville casino venues behind closed doors.
According to information provided by individuals with direct knowledge of the matter, Mr Fu received a payment worth thousands of dollars in cash, as well as other incentives in return for luring groups of gamblers from interstate to the venues as recently as April, which allegedly violated the gambling legislation of Queensland. So far, it has not been suggested that the owner of the venues, Morris, was aware of the operation.
Mr Fu confirmed that he held no authorities’ approval to run services of a junket operator but claimed that he was not operating such a service. He explained that the benefits and payments received from The Ville were not in return for bringing in gambling groups but part of a promotion.
Daniel Williams has started his writing career as a freelance author at a local paper media. After working there for a couple of years and writing on various topics, he found his interest for the gambling industry.