March 22, 2024 3 min read


Star Entertainment Announces Leadership Changes as NICC Probe Looms

CEO Cooke’s duties will be temporarily taken over by chair Foster until a new CEO is found

Star Entertainment Group, an Australian gambling giant, is set to undergo another leadership reshuffle. As announced by the operator, Christina Katsibouba, its chief financial officer, is set to exit with immediate effect. More importantly, Robbie Cooke will step down as CEO amid the ongoing license suitability concerns.

Katsibouba Departs, O’Connell Joins as Interim CFO

Katsibouba’s departure comes after nine years with Star. In her position, the CFO steered the finance function of the Australian casino and hospitality giant. She was also instrumental in the company’s capital structure initiatives in 2023, as Star began its journey to regain license suitability.

According to the company’s official announcement, Katsibouba has decided to leave to pursue other interests.

In the meantime, Neale O’Connell will join as interim CFO on March 25. He will bring substantial financial experience in the gaming and leisure industries to manage Star’s business. Prior to joining Star, O’Connell served as global CFO of Corporate Travel Management and Group CFO at Tatts Group. His track record includes overseeing the merger of Tatts and Tabcorp.

David Foster, Star’s chair, personally thanked Katsibouba for her contributions and welcomed O’Connell on board. He lauded the interim CFO as a “highly capable and credentialed replacement” with robust experience and an impressive track record.

Star operates in a highly regulated environment and is going through significant internal change. Neale’s expertise from previous roles will be highly valued.

David Foster, chair, Star Entertainment Group

Cooke Exits Amid Suitability Uncertainties

In the meantime, Robbie Cooke is departing from the group as the second probe into Star’s business looms. The Australian gambling company was previously deemed unsuitable to hold a license because of regulatory failings and has been working hard to implement remediation measures.

According to the announcement, Cooke, who took over as CEO in November, is stepping down from the role with immediate effect. His duties will be temporarily taken over by chair Foster until a replacement is found. Cooke will also remain around for a while, serving as a consultant to the company for six more months. Additionally, Anne Ward will serve as a lead independent director.

In the meantime, the company is preparing for a second probe into its business practices. The New South Wales Independent Casino Commission is set to determine whether Star has properly implemented the remediation measures outlined in the Bell review and whether it is suitable to hold a license after all.

Foster commented on the matter, saying that Star is ready to do better and is committed to being judged suitable to hold a casino license in NSW.


Angel has a passion for all forms of writing, be it fiction or nonfiction. His curious nature gives him an ace up his sleeve when researching a new topic. Angel’s thirst for knowledge, paired with adaptability, always helps him find his way around.

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