Posted on: September 14, 2023, 08:12h.
Last updated on: September 14, 2023, 08:12h.
Star Entertainment is facing the consequences of its regulatory failures and the resulting heavy fines due to its disregard for anti-money laundering (AML) policies in Australia. The casino operator has now taken the extreme measure of banning select poker players from its casinos without providing any valid reason.
Craig Abernethy, an Australian poker player and the founder of the Australian Poker Schedule website, has taken the initiative to shed light on this issue. He has started a petition on Change.org, which has garnered significant support and may cause Star to reconsider its ban.
The attention drawn to this matter should compel Star to provide a clear explanation for the ban. At present, the company has only responded to requests for clarification by stating that it is not obligated to disclose a reason, and individuals who attempt to enter a Star property may face arrest.
All Star Patrons On Notice
Abernethy’s Change.org petition, which has now reached 520 signatures, reveals that Star has already banned at least six Australian poker players from its casinos within the past year. In all instances, the operator has refused to provide an explanation or offer a means for players to rectify the situation.
Due to these unexplained exclusions by The Star who are hosting this festival, these players egregiously cannot compete without even knowing why or what they have allegedly done wrong, and the scariest thing about not knowing why this happened is this means it can happen to any poker player at any time without prior notice
In a conversation with Casino.org, Abernethy confirmed that an unofficial source at Star revealed that the ban stems from these players being involved in large money transfers. As a result, they have been categorized alongside money launderers.
However, Star seems unwilling to work with the players to resolve the issue. When contacted, the players are informed that “The Star is not required to provide reasons or justifying the exclusions nor the information relied upon making the decision to exclude.”
Star could have easily resolved the matter by requesting information regarding the source of funds. In high-stakes tournaments with $50,000 buy-ins, significant money transfers are to be expected.
Abernethy highlighted that several members of the poker community have attempted to address the issue with Star, as well as with the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation and Queensland government officials. Unfortunately, all efforts have been fruitless so far.
Top Players To Miss WPT Event
The implications are immediate for the affected players. The World Poker Tour (WPT) is currently underway in Australia, with an exclusive partnership with Star.
As the Star Gold Coast begins hosting the WPT series today, prominent players like Alex Lynskey, Australia’s 8th highest earner according to the Hendon Mob, will be unable to participate. Similarly, Najeem Ajez, who recently secured first place in an Australian Poker Tour event in Queensland and came third in last year’s WPT Australia Main Event, is also prohibited from playing.
Abernethy discovered that other players have had to provide income statements in order to participate. This is reminiscent of Crispin Rovere, a poker player whose Westpac bank accounts were frozen after making deposits, despite the amounts being below the threshold for AML reporting guidelines. Rovere expressed concerns at the time about a potentially “totalitarian” attitude in the financial industry. It seems that Star may already embody this attitude.