The proposal of Australia’s Star Entertainment Group Limited to add another 1,000 gaming machines to its casino The Star Sydney has been rejected by the Government of New South Wales (NSW Government). If it was approved, the move would have boosted the venue’s machines by 67% from 1,500.
The Reason for Rejection
On June 24, the NSW Government refused to grant permission to Star Entertainment Group to increase the number of gaming machines in its Sydney gambling venue. The government has stated that the reason for the rejection is that Star Sydney is currently under review over failings in its anti-money laundering controls. The inquiry into the venue’s operations is the result of issues found in terms of its relationship with junket promoters from Asia and the illegitimate use of China UnionPay cards aiming to cover up for gambling transactions. These violations can lead to the removal of The Star Sydney’s casino operating license when the inquiry report comes out at the end of August 2022.
If it was approved, the Star Entertainment Group’s proposal on new gaming machines would have seen The Star Sydney transferring gaming machine licenses from regional pubs and casinos in New South Wales that are not performing well. The scheme was to offer those venues the possibility to either sell their licenses or lease them to Star Entertainment Group. The proposal also included a reduction of the state’s number of gaming machines by 500 as The Star Sydney pledged an obligation to discard one in four of the licenses it managed to acquire.
Criticism of the Negative Impact on Regional Communities
Criticism was directed at the bid as concerns were raised that the transfer of licenses would take away jobs and revenue from regional communities in New South Wales, while also impacting their social lives. On the other hand, the proposal gained support as it was highlighted that The Star Sydney is better able to offer quality controls over money laundering and problem gambling.
The Star Sydney has also highlighted that its 1,500 gaming machines are actually only 1,6% of all the machines available in the state. It has compared this number to Crown Melbourne’s 2,628 and Crown Perth’s 2,500 machine licenses and its own 2,500 licenses for the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane venue, which is going to open in 2022.