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‘Unsuitable’ casino granted licence lifeline

STAR CASINO BRISBANE
The Queensland government has deferred suspending Star Entertainment’s casino licence. Picture: NewsWire / Dan Peled

The Queensland government has deferred suspending Star Entertainment Group’s licence until the end of 2024, seven months after announcing the initial 90-day operations ban.

The Star’s operations in Brisbane and the Gold Coast were originally handed a 90-day suspension from December 1 last year.

The government then extended an olive branch by deferring the original trading ban until May 31 this year.

STAR CASINO BRISBANE
The Queensland government has deferred suspending Star Entertainment's casino licence. Picture: NewsWire / Dan Peled,

But in a statement posted on the ASX on Friday morning, chairwoman Anne Ward said the state government had offered another lifeline by granting a new deferral to December 20.

“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 NSW and to better assess The Star’s remediation progress before making further decisions,” the statement said.

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In 2022, The Star was found unsuitable to hold a casino licence in Queensland after an independent review, known as the first Bell inquiry, found there had been “major failings” from the company.

The inquiry, which was chaired by Adam Bell SC, found the gaming giant hadn’t met its obligations to prevent money laundering and organised crime links.

“The cultural dysfunction had significant adverse consequences for Star Entertainment’s capacity to withstand the risks of criminal infiltration and money laundering,” Mr Bell’s 2022 report found.

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the latest deferral decision was approved by the Governor in Council.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NCA NewsWire Photos - 19 APRIL 2023: Queensland Health Minister The Hon Yvette D’ath during Question time at Queensland Parliament in Brisbane. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Glenn Campbell
Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath says the government is waiting to see whether the second Bell inquiry into Star makes any recommendations. . Picture: NewsWire / Glenn Campbell

“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,” Ms D’Ath said.

“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.”

The second Bell inquiry in NSW will probe whether The Star has or is able to obtain the finances to ensure its continued viability, compliance with internal controls, and the culture within the organisation.

The final report for the second Bell inquiry is due on May 31.