SkyCity Adelaide under state government probe

By Charlotte Lee Updated
SkyCity Adelaide under state government probe

A fresh independent review of an Australian casino has been announced, with South Australian authorities launching an independent review of Adelaide’s SkyCity casino.

Yogonet reports the inquiry comes after similar inquiries interstate.

Retired Supreme Court judge and formal royal commissioner Brian Martin AO QC will lead the inquiry ordered by the commissioner for consumer and business affairs, Dini Soulio.

Soulio said commissions of inquiry into casinos had been undertaken in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia and a further inquiry was about to begin in Queensland.

“Inquiries to date have highlighted significant failings on the part of Crown Resorts as operators of Crown Casinos”, he said.

Star Entertainment Group is currently being subject to a review in NSW where “significant failings have been identified,” Soulio stated.

New Zealand-based SkyCity Entertainment Group operates five casino properties in New Zealand and Australia.

In 2021, an investigation on SkyCity began by financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC over serious non-compliance issues related to money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws in its Adelaide operations.

In a statement issued to the ASX, SkyCity claimed AUSTRAC had identified concerns about SKyCity Adelaide’s management of high-risk customers and “politically exposed” people.

It also said AUSTRAC’s concerns are related to “ongoing customer due diligence” and adopting, maintaining and complying with an anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing program.

Soulio referred to Martin as “eminently qualified” to inquiry into the casino.

“Mr Martin is a highly respected member of the legal profession. He has conducted reviews of key criminal justice policies in South Australia including reforms to the handling of major indicvtible offences and the state’s sentencing discount scheme.

In a statement to the stock exchange, SkyCity said it would fully cooperate with the review and any requests for information and documents.

The report is due to be completed by the start of February 2023.

Queensland casino reviewer announced

It was already recently announced that former Appeal Court Justice Robert Gotterson AO was appointed to lead an external three-month review into The Star’s operations in Queensland to decide if it is fit to run its casinos in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

The inquiry will have the power to directly question Star employees or other relevant people, take submissions and hold public hearings.

The probe will look at the casinos’ commitment to anti-money laundering responsibilities, management of VIP patrons, efforts to help Chinese nationals bypass gambling restrictions, exclusions of banned patrons and approach to harm minimisation.

Queensland head of the Office of Regulatory Policy, Liquor, Gaming and Fair Trading David McKarzel, initially made reference to investigations interstate, saying the government was seeking to take “proactive action” to prevent similar problems in Queensland.

He also mentioned the potential for casino companies to obstruct investigations.

McKarzel said the Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, as well as the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, continued to investigate Star.

That probe began at least eight months ago.

The Queensland investigation, combined with the lessons interstate, showed “stronger regulation is needed”, he said.

McKarzel said the Queensland investigation related to “allegations regarding matters to do with whether anti-money laundering systems were appropriate and whether or not the exclusion process was also working appropriately”.

“There are ongoing investigations into that, but they are not concluded,” he said.

A public hearing into the bill will be held in July.

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