In Australia and the official Queensland investigation into whether The Star Entertainment Group Limited is fit to hold a casino license has reportedly heard how the operator ‘actively encouraged’ high-risk gamblers to visit its two local properties.
According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the independent review into the Brisbane-headquartered firm comes after officials in the neighboring state of New South Wales conducted a similar probe concerning the operator’s gambling license for the 351-room The Star Sydney facility. This special New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority-sanctioned review purportedly got underway in March following the emergence of allegations that the company may have been complicit in multiple instances of money laundering and fraud.
The Star Entertainment Group Limited is reportedly responsible for the gambling-friendly The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane venues in Queensland and is hoping to premiere that state’s $2.8 billion Queens Wharf Brisbane development by the second half of next year. However, all of this could purportedly be put at risk if the inquiry being headed by former Appeals Court judge Robert Gotterson (pictured) determines that the company violated its anti-money-laundering responsibilities or rules governing its relationship with junket firms and VIP players.
Assisting counsel Jonathan Horton reportedly told the investigation earlier today that it would soon hear evidence that The Star Entertainment Group Limited had lured certain gamblers to its pair of Queensland properties after these individuals were barred from entering casinos in New South Wales and Victoria. The solicitor purportedly asserted that this followed revelations concerning how the firm had violated local anti-money laundering laws by allowing its Chinese patrons to utilize their UnionPay debit cards to illicitly process transactions worth ‘some $55 million.’
Horton reportedly stated…
“There’s the issue of some persons being actively encouraged to come to Queensland and being given benefits to do so, even though, and this might be an understatement, red flags existed that ought to have led to their exclusion, let alone not inducing the person to be here.”
Horton reportedly declared that there moreover seemed to have been ‘very serious problems’ with regards to The Star Entertainment Group Limited’s use of inducements for ‘high-value high-risk customers’ that were suspected of being involved with criminal activities, unable to reasonably satisfy source-of-funds checks or subject to exclusion or treatment orders in other Australian jurisdictions.
A statement from Horton reportedly read…
“Some of them on no view should have been invited to come to Queensland given the unavoidable suspicions that would arise about their involvement in criminal activity, the source of their money and the fact of exclusion and treatment elsewhere in other jurisdictions.”
The ongoing Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation-sanctioned inquiry into The Star Entertainment Group Limited reportedly also heard from a number of attestants earlier today including one simply referred to as ‘Witness A’. This anonymous male figure purportedly told of the ‘significant’ anguish he had endured via a decade-long addiction to gambling as well as his unsuccessful efforts to self-exclude due to the fact that ‘I could go back into those establishments quite easily.’
The unidentified witness reportedly proclaimed…
“Often it’s about the things that are not monetary that I’m gambling with; family, relationships, job, whether I can put bread and milk on the table.”