Sydney’s Star casino fined $90,000 over three underage infractions

Star Entertainment Group

The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has fined Sydney’s Star Casino a total of AU$90,000 over three instances involving children gambling and being served alcohol.

Self reporting the incidents that occurred during a four-month period from March – July 2019, it follows the property documenting 32 instances of minors gaining access to restricted areas of the casino last year, a figure marginally down from 35 a year earlier.

The first instance regards a 12-year-old whose parents sneaked her in to play the pokies, with the girl’s mother evading security by holding open an exit door as patrons came out, then guided her straight on to the main gaming floor.

Once inside, the family, visiting from China on tourist visas, saw the primary school student place 21 bets on several poker machines, before being intercepted by security as they were leaving the casino.

Philip Crawford, NSW Independent Liquor and Authority Chair, said the case sits at the more serious end of the spectrum considering the child’s age, the manner of entry and length of time before she was detected, and the fact the parents initiated the crime.

“It’s quite staggering that the young girl’s parents facilitated her entry in such a deceptive manner, let alone allowed their daughter to gamble,” he said.

David Byrne, Liquor and Gaming NSW director of investigations and intervention, stated that underage patrons trying to sneak in through the exit doors is a fairly obvious risk: “However, not only did The Star fail to manage the risk, once the child was on the gaming floor, there were a number of opportunities where staff should have noticed a very young person playing the poker machines – well before they actually did which was when the family was leaving,” he commented.

The second incident saw a 16-year-old girl enter through the VIP checkpoint with a ‘platinum’ member without being asked for ID, before taking her to the main gaming area and being served alcohol at the bar, using a fake driver’s licence. 

Interception came when access to the properties nightclub was attempted, at which point the dissimilarity between the ID and her physical appearance was picked up.

In the third incident, a 17-year-old boy entered the casino with a provisional licence and was subsequently served at the bar and played 42 rounds of roulette and 22 hands of poker, before being detected and escorted out 3.5 hours later.

“Both children’s forays lasted long enough that they had interacted with several staff members by the time they were discovered,” Byrne commented. “In the 17-year-old boy’s case, CCTV showed a total of 15 staff interactions.

“While it can be difficult to vet a person’s age by assessing whether they look over 25, this only underscores the importance of checkpoint and roving ID verification and consideration as to whether the person presenting matches their documentation.”

The incidents involving the 16 and 17-year olds resulted in two AU$15,000 fines, with the incident involving the 12-year-old bringing forward a AU$60,000 fine. Previously, the largest fine for minors on premises was AU$7,000.

“We appreciate The Star’s cooperation in coming forward each time they detect a minor, however we do take these cases seriously,” added Crawford.

“The penalty indicates that every breach requires a regulatory response befitting the risk of harm to young people and the community.”