Australian gambling operator Star Entertainment Group has been fined AU$100 million (€64 million) for license breaches that included allowing money laundering to take place at its Sydney casino.
In an announcement issued via the NSW government website, regulators also confirmed that the company’s gambling license has been suspended.
The fine of AU$100 million is the maximum allowed under new regulations put in place following a damning inquiry into the company’s business activities. It’s believed that the NSW Independent Casino Commission stopped short of removing Star’s license to operate in a bid to protect thousands of jobs.
Despite the suspension, the casino will still operate under an independent manager who will be appointed by the commission.
NICC Chief Commissioner Philip Crawford said of the penalty and suspension:
“The suspension comes into effect Friday 21 October 9.00am when the manager starts in the role. The NICC has resolved that it is no longer in the public interest that The Star should remain in control of that licence, and that The Star is not currently suitable to be the holder of the licence.
The Star’s current board and executive understand the gravity of Bell’s findings. They have publicly apologised and acknowledged the serious wrongdoing that occurred, and they are willing to co-operate with the regulator.
The Star’s public communications to shareholders and its submission to the NICC’s show cause notice have demonstrated genuine contrition and a desire to work openly and transparently with the NICC to try to preserve the licence and protect the many jobs that depend on it being operable.
If it were not for The Star’s change in attitude and our belief that it is in the public interest to protect the thousands of jobs at risk, there might have been a different outcome.”
He went on to add:
“The appointment of a manager does not mean the NICC believes The Star is suitable to hold a casino licence.
At this point the NICC believes there is a possibility The Star can undertake the reforms necessary to give the NICC confidence it can start a remediation process with a view to becoming suitable.”
Earlier this year, the commission’s report found that Star Entertainment was unsuitable to continue as a gambling operator in New South Wales. The company is also under investigation in Queensland following allegations that it allowed as much as AU$55 million (€38.09 million) in gambling funds from Chinese high rollers to be disguised as room and entertainment charges.
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