Queensland authorities launch investigation following Star allegations

Star Entertainment, Queensland

The Star Entertainment Group is to face an investigation in Queensland, after allegations that the company has engaged in a series of improper practices were described as “very serious”.

Attorney General Shannon Fentiman has confirmed that an investigation into the claims will proceed, with Queensland’s Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation to work alongside the police and AUSTRAC, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, in looking into the matter.

This follows reports suggesting that the company, which runs Queensland casinos on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane as well as in neighbouring New South Wales in Sydney, has enabled suspected money laundering, organised crime, large-scale fraud and foreign interference through its venues.

An investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald, Age, and 60 Minutes alleges that, between 2014 and 2021, Star cultivated high-roller gamblers associated with criminal or foreign-influence operations.

“The investigation will consider the appropriateness and effectiveness of Star’s due diligence processes in relation to anti-money laundering and how the Star approaches exclusions to ensure people are excluded from all properties where appropriate,” a statement released by Fentiman is quoted in media outlets.

“The government will be considering the outcomes of the various inquiries carefully and will make any necessary changes to the regulatory framework.”

Further allegations include claims that individuals banned from Crown Melbourne and The Star Sydney due to organised crime links were subsequently permitted to gamble at The Star’s Gold Coast venue.

Responding to the allegations, the group said: “The Star is concerned by a number of assertions within the media reports that it considers misleading. There are constraints on publicly discussing specific individuals. 

“We will take the appropriate steps to address all allegations with relevant state and federal regulators and authorities, including Mr Adam Bell SC who is undertaking a regular review of The Star Sydney in accordance with the Casino Control Act 1992 (NSW).”

The Star Entertainment Group is currently the subject of a review of its Sydney casino operations, which is being spearheaded by the lead senior counsel who assisted the Bergin Inquiry into Crown Resorts.

New South Wales’ Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority last month detailed the launch of the inquiry, and appointed Adam Bell SC to undertake a review of operations. He is expected to hand down his findings to the ILGA in late January 2022.