Transport minister Rob Stokes has questioned the benefits of Sydney’s casinos following The Star Casino’s licence review amid accusations of wide-scale money laundering and criminal activity.
Australia.- Transport minister Rob Stokes told parliament last night that New South Wales must rethink the future of Sydney casinos after its inquiry into The Star Entertainment Group. He questioned whether casinos benefited the state.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Stokes said: “Now is the best time to ask the question: are the illusory and ephemeral benefits of Sydney’s casinos worth the proven harm – the deceit, the crime, the destroyed lives?”
He added: Stokes added: “Revelations of tax evasion also completely undermine the argument that casino operations are justified based on the revenue they provide to support wider social and community benefits.”
At the ILGA public hearing into The Star Sydney Paulinka Dudek, deputy treasurer of the Star Group admitted she misled National Australia Bank about the use of a China UnionPay card at Star Entertainment venues.
The inquiry heard that around AU$900m was processed on the CUP cards before CUP terminals in Star venues were disabled in 2020.
Meanwhile, Paul McWilliams, former chief risk officer at the company, gave testimony about a 2018 report by global audit firm KPMG and said Star CEO Matt Bekier had criticised the report. Bekier has since tendered his resignation as managing director and chief executive officer of the Star Entertainment Group.
A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of investors in Star Entertainment Group amid the heavy public scrutiny.
The NSW government has been under pressure to reform the gambling industry following an investigation into Crown Resorts last year, which uncovered wrongdoing and money laundering when assessing Crown’s suitability for a licence in Barangaroo.
Meanwhile, minister for hospitality and racing Kevin Anderson has said that a new regulator will be established by the middle of this year.
He said: “The independent, standalone casino regulator will enhance the management of existing and emerging risks in the current casino regulatory environment, particularly the risks of money laundering and other financial crimes associated with casino activities.”