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The case involving Star Entertainment has continued to intensify as a court heard allegations that David Foster had ambitions to ‘demolish’ the NICC, the gaming regulator for New South Wales. 

When questioned about these messages that were exchanged, Foster revealed that his suggestions were around reform and for the body to come back under a different alias. 

Fuelling the motives of Foster were to ‘even the playing field’ between operators and the Australian nightlife sector. 

Nonetheless, Foster did admit to being ‘trigger happy’ with his text messages and expressed regret over the messages, which he believed were taken out of context. 

“These unfortunately are a snippet of some heat of the moment comments made which I regret, but certainly do not in any way reflect on my actual activities and focus, or the relationship I have with Nicholas Weeks and the regulators.

He also described the relationship as being one that has been ‘very focused, constructive and with only one outcome in mind which is working with the company to achieve its remediation outcomes’.

Additionally, Foster defended himself by stating that the content and tone of the messages didn’t replicate the actions he took when it came to the company’s relationship with the regulator. 

The input of Robbie Cooke has come under increased scrutiny during the trial. Messages from Cooke revealed in court stated that he believed the regulator was ‘preparing for war, so we should do the same’. 

Weeks issued his response to the plans, describing them as ‘extraordinary’. Speaking during the inquiry, he said: “It’s difficult to reconcile everything that the company has told me and everything it tells the market and the regulator in relation to its motivations to reform.

“I find it extraordinary that the chairman of a listed company and a CEO were exchanging messages and contemplating a class action from shareholders against me personally and the NICC in circumstances where their public position is that they’re working cooperatively.”

According to Weeks the allegations underline significant cultural issues at the company, which present a real challenge in progress for the operator moving forward as it falls short of meeting expectations. 

 “I was concerned about the cultural issues. Also, I was concerned about the control environment because balancing the books and counting money was one of those things that I anticipated the casino would be very good at.

“There was an absence of people speaking up and saying ‘we’ve got a problem here’ and escalating issues. Until the new leadership takes hold and really sets a different expectation and standards among team members, these types of incidents may continue to occur.”

Cooke confirmed his departure from Star Entertainment, while his replacement, at least on a temporary basis, was confirmed as Foster.