The suitability of the Star Entertainment Group to hold casino licenses in Queensland will be put to the test as public hearings begin.
Following an introductory session last month, the first proper hearing was held in Brisbane earlier today, during which Jonathan Horton QC leveled several accusations against The Star.
One of his allegations concerned high-risk gamblers, who Horton claims were enticed to travel to Queensland by The Star despite “red flags.”
“There’s the issue of some people being actively encouraged to come to Queensland and being given benefits to do so, even though there were red flags that should have led to their exclusion, let alone not inducing the person to come here,” he said.
Horton also addressed allegations that The Star permitted Chinese nationals to gamble using China UnionPay (CUP) debit or credit cards despite currency movement restrictions.
He claimed that China UnionPay cards were used to deposit funds into hotel room accounts, but that they were actually used for gambling.
“[The Star] would confirm the cardholder’s identity, they’d swipe their card at a terminal at the hotel reception, and a room charge account would be opened in their name,” Horton explained.
“Two; the transaction was completed at the front desk with a CUP debit card in the customer’s name.” Three, if they were successfully processed, they would be given a confirmation receipt.
“Fourth, the customer would be escorted by a VIP executive host to the casino cage, where the funds would be deposited into that person’s front-money account.”
This practice was discontinued in “early March 2020,” but Horton stated that “some AU$55m” (US$37.8m) was transacted in Star casinos using this method.
He did, however, admit that “this appears to be less than in New South Wales.”
Finally, Horton stated that the inquiry will not be “investigating suitability as such,” but that its findings will be “relevant to the assessment of suitability.”