In Australia and casino operator The Star Entertainment Group Limited has reportedly suspended a customer rebate program amid concerns that the scheme could potentially breach local rules to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

According to a report from the Reuters news services, the incentive from the Brisbane-headquartered firm had allowed land-based punters to collect game-specific rewards and then exchange these for cash whilst enjoying the same entertainment. The company purportedly announced that it has now immediately ceased this facility ‘for both domestic and international players across all its casinos until further notice’ as it collaborates with local regulators ‘to address various identified risks as part of ongoing reviews of systems and processes’.

Problematic probe:

The Star Entertainment Group Limited is responsible for The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane venues in Queensland and is hoping to premiere that state’s $2.3 billion Queens Wharf Brisbane development by the summer of next year. However, the recent quinquennial review into the New South Wales casino license held by its The Star Sydney property uncovered evidence that the firm had disguised casino-related transactions worth almost $667 million as hotel expenses in order to get around China’s strict controls on the movement of capital.

Outside aid:

Sydney-listed The Star Entertainment Group Limited remains under investigation by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and used an official Monday filing (pdf) to disclose that it does not think the suspension of its customer rebate program will have a material impact on its upcoming annual earnings. Nevertheless, the company asserted that it has ‘engaged external advisors’ to look into the scheme while continuing to implement ‘a significant program of work’ that has been designed ‘to further improve those systems and processes while cooperating fully with the review.’

Read a statement from The Star Entertainment Group Limited…

“The Star Entertainment Group Limited ended all junket programs in October of 2020. In light of the coronavirus-related impacts on this part of the business, the decision to suspend rebate programs is not expected to have any material impact on earnings for the 2022 fiscal year.”

Executive exodus:

This move from The Star Entertainment Limited comes only a few days after the firm revealed the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Harry Theodore as well as the analogous departures of its Chief Casino Officer, Greg Hawkins, and Company Secretary and Chief Legal and Risk Officer, Paula Martin. These exits followed the March decision from the company’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Matt Bekier, to stand down after eight years amid the emergence of the hotel expense revelations.

Fresh faces:

The Star Entertainment Group Limited also used the filing to explain that Christina Katsibouba has been named as its Interim Chief Financial Officer with Geoff Hogg to temporarily fill in as its New South Wales and Queensland Chief Casino Officer. This comes just three days after the casino operator asserted that Jennie Yuen is to continue serving as its Company Secretary following her appointment from the end of last July.