An investigation found that The Star Entertainment allowed individuals with alleged criminal ties to gamble at their Queensland casinos for years, despite bans at other resorts in Australia. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Research Highlights “Person 2”
Executives at The Star Entertainment Group have admitted that the company allowed gamblers with criminal ties to gamble at its Brisbane and Gold Coast casinos for far too long before they were banned.
That admission came amid Queensland’s ongoing investigation into whether Star should keep its casino licenses in the Australian state.
Star didn’t ban them from their Queensland casinos until January 2021
On Thursday, the investigation discussed the case of “Person 2”, an unnamed gambler with suspected ties to the Italian criminal network known as ‘Ndrangheta. Casinos in Victoria and New South Wales banned the person from playing in 2014 and 2015 respectively. However, Star didn’t ban them from its Queensland casinos until January 2021.
Star executives told regulators a series of blunders prevented the company from banning Person 2 and others like them. The casinos spelled the individual’s name differently in their records than in media reports of their criminal exploits, meaning Star’s anti-money laundering system never made the connection. Star’s anti-money laundering team may still have realized Person 2’s alleged criminal connections, but often couldn’t read media articles about its high rollers because it had no subscriptions to major publications.
Ultimately, Person 2 would become one of the top ten table games players at The Star Gold Coast.
New policy in effect
While Star executives admitted that for a number of reasons the company should have banned Person 2 much earlier, they told the investigation that such mistakes would not happen today under their leadership. Star interim chief Geoff Hogg said he was not involved in discussions of anti-money laundering investigations at the time.
“In retrospect, I think, looking at our processes, our assessment and our policies, they weren’t as strong as they should have been,” Hogg told the study. “That material was worrisome to read. I can understand why some research stuff hasn’t been shared [with me]but if you read it, you certainly wish you had known.”
current policy would activate background checks on clients such as Person 2
Anti-Money Laundering Chief Executive Howard Steiner told the investigation that current policies would lead to background checks on clients such as Person 2. In addition, Star casinos are now recognizing lockout orders from interstate police commissioners, not just those in Queensland.
Steiner and Hogg were the latest witnesses in an investigation that began Tuesday. Queensland regulators are investigating allegations that Star Entertainment was ignoring money laundering and criminal infiltration into its properties in the state.
Star Entertainment under fire
The investigation has also yielded other revelations. Star executives admitted it has changed its policy to hide AU$55m (US$38.35m) in banned gambling transactions for China UnionPay cardholders. The company allowed cardholders to withdraw money at casinos while the transactions were recorded as “hotel purchases” to circumvent UnionPay’s restrictions.
Star Entertainment is also facing heat outside the investigation. An investigation by ABC News revealed that Hong Kong-based company Chow Tai Fook, a major shareholder in the development of casinos at Star’s Queen’s Wharf Brisbane, has long-standing ties to organized crime in China.
Former appeals court judge Robert Gotterson, who is leading the investigation, will release his recommendations to Queensland regulators at a later date.
This post Casinos are slow to ban criminals
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