The Star’s deadline for licence suspension extended as Queensland approves remediation plan

The Star’s deadline for licence suspension extended as Queensland approves remediation plan

A render of The Star's Treasury and Queen's Wharf properties in Brisbane  

The Star Entertainment Group (ASX: SGR) has secured Queensland Government approval of its remediation plan, leading to a six-month reprieve on the company’s licence suspension for its Brisbane and Gold Coast casinos.

The remediation plan, which lists 640 milestones across 15 workstreams to be implemented over an undefined period of several years, has been accepted by Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath as The Star gets its house in order following the findings of the Bell and Gotterson inquiries last year.

The Star was given until December 1 to prove it was effecting meaningful change in relation to its practices to prevent gambling harm and money laundering activities, ahead of the government imposing a 90-day suspension of the casino licence to operate The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane.

The company, which was last year fined $100 million by Queensland authorities for breaches to its casino licence obligations, has now been set a new deadline of 31 May 2024 to prove to the government that it is returning suitability via the implementation of the remediation plan.

“We’re pleased to have our remediation plan approved in Queensland,” says The Star’s CEO Robbie Cooke.

“It’s an important step on our path to returning to suitability in Queensland and will track and hold us accountable throughout the multi-year program we are committed to delivering.

“At the same time, we are fully aware that successful implementation of the remediation plan will require the utmost rigour and discipline.

“We need to regain the trust and confidence of all our stakeholders and communities and continue to have an unwavering focus on transformation. That comes from a clear understanding that holding casino licences is a privilege, not a right.”

In tandem with approving the plan, the government has extended the term of special manager Nicholas Weeks who is overseeing the plan’s implementation at The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane casinos.

Weeks, who has also been charged with the same role at The Star Sydney by the NSW gaming authority, has had his term extended by 12 months to 8 December 2024.

“The Star’s remediation and return to suitability to hold a casino licence will not be simple or quick and requires cultural change across the organisation," says D’Ath.

“Today’s announcement strikes the right balance between making sure The Star operates lawfully, ethically and in a way that enhances integrity, while also prioritising public confidence and local jobs.

“The government remains committed to casino reform to address the significant failings identified in the Gotterson Review and the findings of the many inquiries into casino operations across the country.”

The Star notes that today’s announcement relates solely to its Queensland operations.

“The Star is continuing to engage with the NSW Independent Casino Commission in relation to its Sydney operations and will make a separate announcement in relation to the position in NSW,” the company says.

The Star is expecting remediation costs across both state jurisdictions to cost between $35 million and $45 million in FY24, with total expenditure of about $200 million set aside by the company.

The casino group made provisions for $423 million in its FY23 accounts for regulatory and legal matters including fines issued by AUSTRAC and the gaming authorities in NSW and Queensland, as well as civil proceedings.

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