Posted on: March 20, 2023, 04:53h.
Last updated on: March 20, 2023, 04:53h.
If the anti-gambling pundits in Australia didn’t already have enough reason to distrust the gaming industry, Star Entertainment is giving them another. In addition to providing money-laundering assistance and falsifying official records, the casino operator has now admitted to more law-breaking shenanigans as part of its daily routines.
In the latest blow to the Australian gaming ecosystem, Star brass have admitted that they illegally sold gaming chips. It did so by allowing gamblers to use credit cards to make their purchases, according to the Australian Financial Review.
The company confirmed its actions to Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman, leading to a guilty plea on seven charges. However, as Star has repeatedly shown, if it broke the law at Treasury Casino and the Star Gold Coast in Queensland, it likely did the same elsewhere.
More Fallout To Come
Star allowed some patrons who visited its Queensland casinos to buy chips with credit cards. These allegations came as a direct result of the company’s admission that it manipulated records to allow Chinese gamblers to use their Chinese UnionPay (CUP) cards.
Those bank cards, in accordance with Chinese law, are not eligible for gambling purchases. Therefore, Star previously admitted to using fake invoices for hotel stays that were, in reality, chip purchases.
There were at least two extended periods when Star engaged in this deceit, signs that it intentionally circumvented the law. From June 2017 to December 2018 and from March 2022 to April 2022, it allowed the practice to continue.
The second period was while an inquiry into its law-breaking was taking place. Star brass asserted during the Queensland investigation, which ended a year ago, that it recognized its mistakes and wouldn’t break the rules again.
Star is already on the hook for over AUD200 million (US$213.28 million) in fines in Queensland and New South Wales (NSW). Queensland officials are now reviewing how much to add to that and will announce their decision on June 2.
NSW also prohibits the use of credit, as well as debit, cards for making gaming-related purchases. As a result, Star could expect the state to potentially add fresh charges after already temporarily suspending its gaming licenses there. In addition, since Crown Resorts was also guilty of the same practices at its casinos, there’s a possibility it will face new fines, too.
Search For Money
Star is only going from bad to worse as it rides the wave of negative publicity. It is reportedly already trying to find a buyer for its 50% stake in the Sheraton Grand Mirage. It hopes to get the AUD200 million that would cover the two fines in NSW and Queensland.
A month ago, the company announced that it was in the process of gathering AUD800 million ($545 million) through a fund-raising exercise. That money would help it repay debt following a financial loss in the first half of the fiscal year. It also had to suspend shareholder dividends as a result of that loss.
Star’s stock price has nosedived, partly due to the embarrassment it brought upon itself, as well as a softer gaming market. In August 2018, the company traded at AUD4.96 (US$5.28). By this past February, it was down to AUD1.52 (US$1.62). Today, as of press time, it was trading at AUD1.42 (US$1.51).