In Australia and the public inquiry into The Star Entertainment Group Limited has reportedly been told that the local casino operator continued working with junket firm Suncity Group despite telling the market that the two had parted ways.

According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, the Brisbane-headquartered firm is being investigated as part of a New South Wales gambling license suitability exercise for its 351-room The Star Sydney property. The source detailed that this probe being chaired by prominent local attorney Adam Bell kicked off approximately eight months after rival operator Crown Resorts Limited was refused permission to open a casino within its new Crown Sydney facility owing a slew of money laundering allegations tied to that company’s former use of foreign junket firms.

Mounting misgivings:

The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority-sanctioned examination reportedly last week heard allegations that The Star Entertainment Group Limited had allowed its Chinese clientele to get around their home nation’s tight controls on the movement of capital by hiding gambling transactions worth almost $667 million. This inquiry has now purportedly been told that the firm sustained a relationship with Suncity Group despite a 2019 assertion from its Chief Executive Officer, Matt Bekier, that the pair had severed all ties.

Surreptitious shift:

The Due Diligence and Intelligence Group Manager for The Star Sydney, Angus Buchanan, reportedly told the examination that his venue had not stopped working with Suncity Group following the 2019 declaration but had simply moved the junket operation’s in-house Salon 95 VIP gaming suite into an unbranded private room. The figure purportedly also asserted that there had been no difference between the two spaces other than the latter’s lack of recognizable signage.

Erroneous explanation:

Inside Asian Gaming reported that the 2019 assertion from The Star Entertainment Group Limited followed a media investigation into Suncity Group’s operations within the giant Crown Melbourne facility from Crown Resorts Limited. A spokesperson for the former casino firm moreover behind Queensland’s The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane venues purportedly told the source at the time that the shuttering of these junket rooms had been ‘a commercial decision’ taken in light of a ‘lack of demand and high operation costs in Australia’.

In-house inquiry:

However, the probe reportedly heard that The Star Entertainment Group Limited had carried on allowing Suncity Group to run a VIP gaming lounge within its The Star Sydney venue. Investigators were furthermore told that this came even after an internal study from 2018 described the business model of the Hong Kong-headquartered junket firm as ‘problematic’ with regards to the casino operator’s own anti-money laundering obligations.

Potential penalty:

The Star Entertainment Group Limited is additionally planning to premiere its $2.3 billion Queens Wharf Brisbane development by the summer of next year although the ongoing examination could reportedly result in the revocation of the company’s casino license for New South Wales.