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Australia’s Star Entertainment faces yet another enquiry into its suitability to maintain a casino licence following a record fine and licence suspension in October 2022.

At the time, a report led by senior counsel Adam Bell revealed systemic governance, risk, and cultural failures and concluded the group was unfit to run the Sydney casino “The Star” after being infiltrated by Asian organised crime gangs.

However, instead of outright revocation, the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission (NICC) suspended the licence and imposed a record fine of A$100m.

Furthermore, an external manager was appointed to oversee operations.

The NICC today (19 February) asked Bell to conduct a new 15-week probe, set to conclude in May.

Perceived lack of urgency

NICC chief commissioner Philip Crawford expressed dissatisfaction with the perceived lack of urgency in remedial actions.

“There was a substantial shift required and The Star has had 18 months to demonstrate that it has the capability and resources to regain its casino licence,” Crawford said.

“When the manager was extended for the second time in December last year, the NICC was not satisfied The Star was progressing its remediation in a timely fashion.

“The NICC has had concerns about the extent that remediation is attributable to the manager’s oversight and direction versus what is being driven by The Star’s reform agenda.

“Bell Two will bring us back to the Bell report and The Star’s efforts to regain its casino licence in the shadow of that report.”

Crawford said at the time the entire casino may have been shut down as a result of those findings had it not been for the thousands of jobs that would have been lost.

The Star has replaced its board and most of its executive team since then.

Fundraising efforts

“There is much at stake for The Star, so the NICC is giving the casino every chance it can to demonstrate whether it has the capacity and competence to achieve suitability,” he said.

“This includes meeting its financial obligations under the casino licence and funding its remediation programne sufficiently.”

In September 2023, the group launched a A$750m equity fundraising initiative and unveiled a comprehensive four-year debt package totalling A$450m to address existing debt concerns and enhance its financial position.

At the time, group CEO and MD Robbie Cooke said: “With an optimised capital structure, strengthened balance sheet and enhanced flexibility, we have a strong platform from which to deliver on our renewal programme and strategic priorities.”

The company’s stock witnessed a 54% decline over the past six months.

While the group acknowledged the latest enquiry, it refrained from commenting and entered a trading halt ahead of the investigation announcement.

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