The NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) imposed a new six-month deadline to the Australian casino giant Star Entertainment to regain the gambling license for its gaming operations in Sydney. Otherwise, the operator may reportedly face permanent closures of its gaming floors in the capital of the New South Wales province.
As Financial Review reports, the regulator’s warning alleges the Star’s failure to run its flagship Star Sydney casino without supervision after its license was suspended in October 2022 on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism failure allegations. As reported, the commission has now given Star Sydney a six-month deadline to prove its ability to operate independently, i.e., without the governance of the state-appointed general manager Nick Weeks. If the casino proves incapable in this regard, it will need approval to operate.
A commission spokesperson reportedly said: “The NICC is not satisfied The Star has reached a point where the license suspension can be lifted and it can run its casino without the supervision of the manager. If they can’t prove they are capable of operating with a conditional license over the next six months, the manager will be retired, and the doors will close.”
State-Appointed Managers Ensuring Compliance:
Financial Review reports that the state appointed Weeks at The Star in October for the period of 90 days which has meanwhile been extended to June 2024. According to the source, the new deadline will bring the casino operator under additional pressure after it secured a reprieve from the state over the extended tax rate uncertainty. The ASX-listed Star Entertainment group reportedly said that the New South Wales and Queensland regulators extended the terms of their respective managers to allow enough time for the the group’s casinos to take the steps required to ensure the license compliance.
Remediation Process Continues:
The casino operator faced a series of fines, class actions, and license revocations from watchdog authority AUSTRAC and other regulatory bodies in the last financial year. As Financial Review reports, these measures have resulted in a $2.2 billion non-cash impairment of The Star Sydney, The Star Gold Coast, and Treasury Brisbane operator’s properties. However, the company has reportedly secured a new $450 million debt facility from Barclays and Westpac to continue its refinancing process in line with the recent strategic review conducted by Barrenjoey Capital Partners.
A Star spokesman reportedly said that the company “continues to have an unwavering focus on transformation and [they] know the implementation of the remediation plan in NSW and Queensland requires the utmost rigor and discipline.’’ He reportedly added: “This plan will track and hold us accountable throughout the multi-year program we are committed to delivering.’’ According to the source, the company generated $1.9 billion in gaming revenues in the last financial year, 22% more than a year before. Therefore the company reached $317 million in statutory earnings for the year ending June 30, 2023 representing an increase of $79 million or almost 25% over the prior financial year.