Licence suspension delay for Queensland casinos

Savannah Meacham |

Brisbane’s Treasury Casino has had its licence suspension pushed back another six months.
Brisbane’s Treasury Casino has had its licence suspension pushed back another six months.

Star Entertainment has received another reprieve after the Queensland government threatened to suspend its state casino licences.

The embattled gaming giant has had a 90-day suspension of its Brisbane and Gold Coast licences delayed another six months as the state government awaits the outcome of a NSW inquiry.

The Queensland government had initially decided to slap the ban on Brisbane’s Treasury Casino and The Star on the Gold Coast back in December 2023 following the damning findings of a 2022 independent review.

Conducted by Robert Gotterson KC, the review found Star was unfit to hold a licence in Queensland and identified major failings in anti-money laundering attempts and responsible gaming efforts.

The casino operator earned an initial reprieve, with the state government deferring the licence suspension until May 31 after Star produced comprehensive reforms.

The Queensland government on Friday again announced a delay, saying the 90-day suspension would now take effect from December 20 – a year later than the punishment was first set to be imposed.

A file photo of Yvette D'ath
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said findings from a NSW inquiry may lead to further action. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

“This will give the Queensland Government time to evaluate the progress The Star is making on its remediation plan, and consider any relevant findings from the independent inquiry being conducted by Adam Bell SC in NSW,” Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said in a statement.

The inquiry headed by Mr Bell is the second in NSW into The Star’s suitability to hold a licence in that state.

The Star gave a statement on its suspension delay to the ASX on Friday.

“The Star has been advised that this will allow the Queensland government to consider the outcomes of the second Bell inquiry into The Star in New South Wales and to better assess The Star’s remediation progress, before making further decisions,” chairwoman Anne Ward said in the statement.

Ms Ward said the term of a special manager who had been appointed for the Brisbane and Gold Coast casinos was still due to expire on December 8.

The second NSW inquiry has so far heard of ongoing system failures at the Sydney casino, which is currently under independent management, and internal messages about “war” with the state’s liquor and gaming regulator.

The Sydney casino’s licence was suspended in October 2022 and a $100 million fine issued after revelations of a gang-linked junket operator running an illicit cage and Chinese debit-card transactions masked as hotel expenses.

Ms D’Ath said any findings from the NSW inquiry may lead to further action against the casino’s Queensland venues.

“The decision to defer the licence suspensions will not impact the government’s capacity to take any action should the second Bell Inquiry make serious and adverse findings against the company or if The Star doesn’t meet its remediation obligations,” she said.

Efforts to clamp down on illicit casino behaviour have continued in Queensland following the 2022 probe with the government legislating a raft of changes in March.

These include mandatory carded play, cash restrictions, compulsory break limits and enforceable compliance with safer gambling codes of conduct.