During public hearings for the inquiry into The Star Entertainment Group’s Queensland casinos, it was revealed that “one of the top ten table players” at its Gold Coast venue had been barred from casinos in two other states by police.
The inquiry’s third day of public hearings, led by former Court of Appeal judge Robert Gotterson, heard more details about patrons, with one patron allegedly having alleged links to the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta organised crime group. Person Two, the patron, was barred from gambling establishments in New South Wales and Victoria by police commissioners, but was allowed to gamble in Queensland until “some time later.”
According to the evidence presented at the hearing, the patron was barred from a Melbourne casino in December 2014 and a New South Wales venue in 2015, but was not given a group-wide license withdrawal until January 2021.
During the hearing, The Star’s General Manager of Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorism Financing Compliance Howard Steiner acknowledged the compliance strategy’s failures, but added that there is a “culture of the past that does not exist today.”
“I think we’ve addressed that cultural change within The Star, and our culture like that is a vestige of the past,” Steiner said.
During the inquiry, The Star also admitted that it lied to Queensland regulators when it changed a policy to conceal AU$55 million (US$38.4 million) in prohibited gambling transactions from a Chinese bank.
To conceal the practice, the operator changed its financial transaction rules in 2016, allowing China UnionPay cardholders to withdraw cash to bet at its Brisbane and Gold Coast casinos while recording such transactions as hotel purchases with National Australia Bank.
The use of debit cards for gambling is not illegal in the state, but the Chinese lender forbids it.