Star Admits Selling Casino Chips Via Credit Cards

The Australian casino operator Star Entertainment has pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Casino Control Act. Amidst the accusations, Star has admitted breaking the rules after players were able to buy chips at their land based casinos using a credit card. The Australian gambling law prohibits the purchase of gambling chips with a credit card. 

The group violated the law between March 23, 2022 and April 2, 2022 by accepting credit cards as payment for chips. This happened in a branch of Treasury Casino in Brisbane and in the location of Star Gold Coast. The offences occurred between the periods 2 June 2017 and 29 December 2018, and between 23 March 2022 and 2 April 2022. The hearing for breaching the rules of the Casino Control Act 1982 is scheduled to take place on June 2, 2023.

The company, which owns different land based casinos operating in Australia such as the Sydney casino, The Star, and the Treasury and Gold Coast casinos, is going through a year of scandals involving that continue to hurt the brand image of the gambling company.

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Fraud, Organised Crime, Money Laundering

Star Entertainment Group has pleaded guilty to violating 7 different rules of the Casino Control Act 1982. In August 2022, public hearings started in which the gambling company will need to answer the accusation of alleged links with criminal organisations from Macau. The company is accused of being guilty of fraud, organised crime, and money laundering. A billionaire from China was able to deposit a massive amount AU$ 1.7 billion (NZ$ 1.83 billion) at Star Casino Sydney without any investigation into the origin of the money. According to the Australian media, attorney-General Shannon Fentiman states the charges related to Section 66 of the Act prohibits the purchase of gambling chips with a credit card. Fentiman said about the case:

“The Queensland Government is highly committed to make sure Queensland casinos are operated lawfully, ethically and in a way that maintains the highest standards of integrity and public confidence”

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman

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Star Group Replaces Chairman

Amidst the crisis at Star Entertainment Group, the company has announced the appointment of David Foster as its new chairman, replacing the outgoing Ben Heap. Foster was appointed to the Star board as a non-executive director in August 2022 after having spent more than 25 years in the financial services sector, including over 5 years as chief executive of Suncorp Bank, the sixth largest bank in Australia. Depending on regulatory approvals, Foster is expected to take on his new role from 31 March 2023. Ben Heap took a moment to express his gratitude:

“I would like to express my appreciation to the Board and management for their continued support during my term as chairman. I have all the confidence The Star will be a powerhouse of the local tourism and entertainment sectors for the next decades, employing thousands of people across amazing locations in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.”

David Foster added: 

“Ben has played a crucial role over what has been a challenging period for The Star. He showed to be a strong leader and provided stability at a critical time, which included overseeing the appointment of our new CEO, renewal of the Board and a revalue of the balance sheet, amongst others.”

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More Fines in the Making

Star Entertainment Group is also facing a regulatory backlash in New South Wales after its government shared the option of an increase in taxes on pokies. The Australian casino group was also threatened with a massive fine in December 2022, after the local government instructed the casino business to “get its house in order” within a year or pay NZ$ 107 million in penalties after it was found incapable in its operational management in its Queensland casinos. The hearing for breaching the rules of the Casino Control Act 1982 will take place on June 2, 2023. A spokesman for the casino group said it would currently be inappropriate to comment as the matter remains before the court.

In February 2023, the casino operator reported that the law firm Phi Finney McDonald had filed a securities class action lawsuit against it alleging that between March 29, 2016, and June 13, 2022, the Star Group made misleading statements about its anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing compliance processes, whilst it also failed to disclose important information to the market and acted against the interests of its visitors and members. The gambling company said it will defend itself in the proceedings in the next few months. It also states that it will continue to remediate its management and operations. Appointing a new chairman seems to be one of the first steps to do so.

About Star Entertainment Group

The Star Entertainment Group Limited is a stock listed Australian gambling and entertainment company located in the city of Brisbane. The company was formerly known and operated as Echo Entertainment. The Star Entertainment now owns and operates land based casinos Treasury Casino & Hotel, The Star Gold Coast and The Star, Sydney. It holds two out of Queensland’s four casino licences and manages the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre on behalf of the local Queensland Government. Star was founded in 2011 and employs over 8,000 people throughout Australia.

Crown Resorts

Crown Resorts, another Australian gambling group, was also fined AU$80 million (NZ$ 85.9 million) in 2022 by the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC). Crown Resorts has received this fine because the Melbourne casino allowed customers to pay with China UnionPay credit or debit cards between 2012 and 2016. As a result, Crown Resorts is believed to have guaranteed itself an additional revenue of over AU$32 million (NZ$ 34 million) from gambling customers from China.

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