Former judge to lead external review into Star casinos

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

The terms of reference have been released for the independent external review of the operations of The Star casinos in Queensland, to be led by eminent former judge, The Honourable Robert Gotterson AO.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the Palaszczuk Government is determined that Queensland casinos are operated lawfully, ethically and in a way that maintains the highest standards of integrity and public confidence.

“Former justice Robert Gotterson AO will bring a wealth of judicial experience to the role. His Honour served on both the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal before retiring in 2019,” the Attorney said.

His Honour will be assisted by Jonathan Horton QC.

“Mr Horton specialises in public and regulatory law and has a depth of experience in the area of Inquiries and Reviews, including conducting a review of The Star Casino’s licence under the Casino Control Act 1992 (NSW) in 2016.”

The Attorney-General said the inquiry into the operations of The Star Gold Coast and the Treasury casinos will have all the powers, authorities, rights, privileges, protection and jurisdiction of a commission of inquiry.

“There have been serious allegations made, along with a number of public inquiries and regulator investigations over recent years,” she said.

“Given the weight of evidence that has emerged regarding the operations of The Star Sydney and the shared governance and operational arrangements of Star Group entities more broadly, it is important the inquiry can seek information from anyone it sees fit.

“His Honour will be able to conduct interviews, and direct questioning of Star employees or other relevant persons should he consider it necessary, as well as review the evidence and the findings of the Bell Review and ongoing Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulations’ investigations.

The Attorney-General said in addition to the review the Government was investing more than $4 million extra over the next four years into ensuring casinos are operated lawfully.

“This funding will pay for additional specialist audit resources dedicated to monitoring casino compliance. This will complement existing onsite casino inspection resources, providing more comprehensive regulatory oversight,” she said.

“Changes to the Casino Control and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 are already before the Queensland Parliament as we move to strengthen the casino regulatory framework.

“This includes increased penalties (maximum $50 million), self-reporting obligations and the ability for myself, as the Minister, to direct a casino operator to engage an approved qualified expert to inquire into and report on any matter relevant to the conduct of casino operations.”

The proposed inquiry will examine but not be limited to:

  1. Commitment to anti-money laundering responsibilities, including detecting and preventing money-laundering risks, implementation of know your customer systems, and enhanced and ongoing customer due diligence obligations, particularly as they relate to high risk and high value customers;
  1. Management of VIP patrons, high rollers and international patrons, including the management of associated bank accounts, transfers, credits and deposits;
  1. Use of China UnionPay debit or credit card facilities and other arrangements to help facilitate gambling by Chinese nationals despite Chinese currency movement restrictions;
  1. Management of exclusions, in particular those patrons excluded from The Star Sydney at the direction of the NSW Police Commissioner, and whether patrons excluded by NSW Police were actively encouraged or incentivised to attend Star Group’s Queensland casinos;
  1. Approach to gambling harm minimisation, including fitness for purpose, implementation, and resourcing;

The full terms of reference on the independent external review can be found here https://www.publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/external-review-of-star-casinos

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