Illegal Credit Card Gambling
Seven of the 11 charges brought against Star Entertainment were for violating Queensland’s casino legislation that explicitly prohibits using credit cards to buy chips for gambling.
The court heard that between 2017 and 2022, Star Entertainment illegally allowed several patrons to obtain significant dollar amounts in gambling chips using their credit cards at the Treasury Casino in Brisbane and the Star Gold Coast Casino. One patron could purchase $20,000 in chips on credit in 2022.
Promotions Sent to Excluded Patrons
In February 2022, Star Entertainment was charged for sending promotional casino materials to four patrons who had self-excluded from gambling activities due to problem gambling issues. This was done despite Queensland legislation prohibiting the targeted promotion of casino gambling to people who have opted out of casino mailing lists for gambling-related harm issues.
Cooperation with Investigations
The court found that Star Entertainment had cooperated fully with investigations into the breaches after voluntarily self-reporting the credit card offences. According to the magistrate’s remarks, Star completed thorough internal audits examining relevant records and surveillance footage.
Following these in-depth reviews, the company implemented strengthened processes and comprehensive staff re-training to improve compliance across its Queensland casinos. Procedures were amended to prevent excluded patrons from being sent promotional materials. While specific checks were also added requiring manager sign-off for any online casino credit card transactions.
Significant Fines & Legal Troubles
The $140,000 fine comes after Star Entertainment was hit in October 2022 with a record $100 million penalty in NSW when investigators found evidence of money laundering and compliance failures at its Sydney casino. The Sydney gambling regulator suspended Star’s license for the first time and demanded internal reforms.
Similarly, in December 2022, an inquiry in Queensland deemed Star unfit to hold state casino licenses due to neglecting anti-money laundering and responsible gambling duties, deliberately misleading the regulator for profit. The company now has 12 months to reform its operations or face 3-month license suspensions in both Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
The legal troubles and fines have added financial stress on Star Entertainment. In April, the company announced plans to cut 500 jobs, freeze salaries, and cancel executive bonuses after “significant and rapid deterioration” of business in Sydney and the Gold Coast.
Shareholder Class Action
Separately, Star is facing a potential class action lawsuit from shareholders alleging the company failed to disclose links between organised crime, money laundering and its Sydney casino.
In his sentencing remarks, the Brisbane magistrate emphasised that Star’s offences involved elements of human error rather than systemic issues or intentional wrongdoing. He considered Star’s self-reporting of the breaches to be a significant mitigating factor in the relatively small $140,000 fine compared to the over $1 million maximum penalty.