Star Entertainment Dodges License Suspension, but It Remains a Possibility

Star Entertainment Group has been granted an extension by Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath to keep its Queensland casinos open for the upcoming holiday season. The decision comes in light of ongoing remediation initiatives and new tax obligations the company faces.

The Gold Coast-based casino operator was at risk of having its license suspended after being found guilty of multiple violations, including money laundering. Queensland had initially determined that the company did not deserve a license and gave it a year to rectify its operations.

The deadline for Star Entertainment to demonstrate progress and compliance with regulations is fast approaching on December 1. While the Queensland government has acknowledged the progress made by Star, it has also made it clear that the company has yet to receive a completely clean bill of health, despite allocating significant resources to comply with regulations.

Star recently presented a plan with over 100 new compliance programs and 600 milestones as part of its remediation initiatives. The plan, which includes an AUD200 million budget, has been approved by Queensland. The AG and the rest of the Queensland government will closely monitor the company’s progress, with a review scheduled for May 31 of next year. Failure to show significant progress could result in a three-month suspension of its gaming license.

Queensland’s decision regarding the transfer of its gaming license to the multibillion-dollar Queen’s Wharf project, set to open early next year, is still pending. The project faces its own dilemma over the suitability of one of its partners, Chow Tai Fook. These discussions are separate from the licensing issue at the other two casinos.

The ongoing issues have also impacted the stock performance of Star Entertainment Group on the Australian Securities Exchange, with consistent drops in share price since February. As of the report, the stock closed at AUD0.50 (US$0.33) on Friday afternoon. The company has attributed the decline to the money laundering scandal and new gaming taxes it is expected to pay soon.

Given the ongoing concerns, the AG has emphasized that it will take “years and years” to address the remediation process and does not expect swift changes from the company. It seems that the road ahead is a long one for Star Entertainment Group as it struggles to overcome its regulatory challenges.