QLD Government buys time on The Star licence suspension decision

QLD Government buys time on The Star licence suspension decision

Photo: Queen's Wharf Brisbane, via Facebook.

The Queensland Government has for the second time deferred a suspension of The Star Entertainment Group's (ASX: SGR) Brisbane and Gold Coast casino licences, pending an evaluation of progress around the group's comprehensive 640-point remediation plan to address past governance failings.

The deadline for a decision was previously extended by 90 days until the end of this month, but has now been extended until December as The Star, which has witnessed a leadership exodus before and during a second round of the Bell Inquiry in NSW, gears up to open its signature joint venture Queen's Wharf Brisbane (QWB).

Without the approval of a casino licence, the project could easily become a very central and prominent white elephant for both The Star and Brisbane as the Queensland capital gears up for the 2023 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

But the state's government has also let the company know it is willing to take a hard line on compliance with the law, and in late 2022 issued a $100 million fine.

"Governor in Council has approved the request to defer the suspension of The Star’s licence for its two Queensland casinos until December 20 this year," Queensland's Attorney General Yvette D'Ath said today.

"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 New South Wales.

"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."

Today's announcement comes a fortnight after D'Ath, who will quit politics at the next state election, gave the green light of casino licence suitability to one of The Star's two joint venture partners at Queen's Wharf, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE).

A key point of concern surrounded alleged links to organised crime, CTFE held an interest in a casino project in Vietnam alongside a person who was later convicted in Macao for "significant fraud perpetrated against the Chinese government".

However, a 16-month probe by Queensland's Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) with a financial investigation firm found there was not enough evidence to suggest CTFE would have known that person was of "poor repute".

"The findings come with a number of actions to remediate CTFE’s dealings with OLGR and to keep under close scrutiny the suitability of CTFE and its associates going forward," the OLGR report said.

"These actions include appointment of a local Australian representative to monitor CTFE’s investment in QWB and ensure CTFE is readily available to engage with the regulator when required; proactive information sharing requirements; and uplifting CTFE’s corporate integrity policies and training regime.

"Failure by CTFE to meet its duty to cooperate would bear upon CTFE’s ongoing suitability and may render CTFE liable to criminal sanction."

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