Entertainment

2nd Australian State Launches Investigation into Star Casino

Hotel rooms above the Star Casino complex in Sydney illuminated at night, February 15, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed

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SYDNEY, June 14 (Reuters) – The Australian state of Queensland said it was investigating whether to allow the country’s No. 2 casino operator Star Entertainment Group Ltd (SGR.AX) to retain its gambling license amid money laundering concerns. growth plan.

After an investigation in a neighboring state accused Star of violating anti-money laundering protocols at its Sydney resort, Queensland said on Tuesday it would also look into obtaining a license from the company.

If this investigation shows that Star is not a good fit, it will likely disrupt the company’s plan to open a A$3.6 billion ($2.5 billion) casino resort in downtown Brisbane as planned in 2023.

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A separate investigation into alleged violations of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism laws at the company’s casino in Sydney, the capital of New South Wales (NSW), has not yet produced its final report. Star CEO Matt Bequier resigned in March amid this investigation.

Queensland Attorney General Shannon Fentiman said the previously uncovered investigations into Star by the state police and the casino regulator are ongoing, but “an independent peer review will also be conducted as to whether The Star is suitable to retain the casino license.”

The state will release the scope of that review later, Fentiman added.

Star stated that it would “cooperate fully with any review”.

The casino sector in Australia has been under scrutiny since media reports surfaced in 2019 accusing larger competitor Star Crown Resorts Ltd (CWN.AX) of widespread misconduct, including failure to stop money laundering by foreign criminals in its premises.

This has led to the conclusion that Crown is not eligible for licensing in the three states in which it operates. It was allowed to continue accepting bets under government control in two states that already had casinos in operation, but the new resort in Sydney has not been allowed to accept bets since it opened in 2020.

The NSW regulator launched a separate investigation into Star after new media accused the company of non-compliance, which it denied.

Star’s profits are roughly split between casinos in Sydney and the cities of Brisbane and the Gold Coast in Queensland.

Star shares closed down 6% on Tuesday against a 3.8% decline in the broader market (.AXJO).

($1 = AUD 1.4422)

(1 dollar = 1.4353 Australian dollars)

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Reporting by Renju Jose; editing by Stephen Coates

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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