Star Sydney shuts as Sydney locked down due to coronavirus outbreak

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Star set to post $75m half-year loss after COVID closures

A fresh outbreak of coronavirus in New South Wales has led to the temporary closure of Star Sydney.’

Inside Asian Gaming reports that the venue will suspend almost all operations for at least the next 14 days, with the New South Wales revising restrictions it introduced last week, where the state’s lockdown was initially seven days.

Star Entertainment Group issued an announcement soon after the NSW Premier made the lockdown order, saying Star Sydney was located within an affected area and would “cease operations, apart from limited hotel facilities, from this time as a result of the orders.”

The company said it would continue to pay its staff during this period.

It is the fourth time The Star Sydney has been forced to either suspend operations or introduce capacity limits since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the most recent coming at Christmas due to an outbreak on Sydney’s northern beaches.

Gambling service revamped in NSW

In New South Wales, gambling help services will soon get a new name and structure from July, with the word “help” being replaced by “aware”.

The Illawarra Mercury reports this would reflect how services available had “evolved” and the new name would better cover education services, government agencies said.

Gambling Help NSW services will be known as GambleAware from July 1, with new GambleAware service providers starting operations.

In the Illawarra, the services will be delivered by Mission Australia, in partnership with the Gambling Impact Society.

The NSW Office of Responsible Gambling said the redesigned GambleAware support and treatment model would encourage community awareness of services available and a higher reliance on digital tools to support clients in their recovery from gambling problems.

The GambleAware website contains a variety of different education and help resources, including information about the chances of winnings, risks and impacts, how to talk about gambling with children and the Reclaim the Game campaign to reduce the domination of sport by gambling ads and “get back to what sport is meant to be about”.

Office of Responsible Gambling director Natalie Wright said gambling had evolved and GambleAware reflects this by aligning gambling education, support and counselling services.

“The name GambleAware unites all NSW gambling support services and is focused on supporting the entire community,”m she said.

“The services range from community engagement and education through to support and treatment and now includes those who may not currently experience challenges around gambling but may be at risk.

“People who are currently accessing Gambling Help NSW services shouldn’t experience any interruption to their service while the transition takes place.”

The tender process for service providers had recently been completed and the next step will be online bookings, which will become available later this year, Ms Wright said, as well as video chat, online chat, email and phone options.

Regulatory pressures to drive Australian casino changes

Ratings agency Fitch said increased regulatory oversight in Australia will drive structural change in the country’s casino sector, with operators under the microscope after a series of high profile media accusations.

“We expect compliance costs for gaming operators to climb given the heightened scrutiny, which is likely to increase regulatory oversight, and investment in compliance systems,” Fitch said.

“Some elements of the operators’ businesses may also be forced to cease, which could dampen their overall revenue generation ability and margins,” analysts Kelly Amato and James Hollamby wrote.

But stricter regulators “are not the only source of change” facing the Australian sector.

“International border closures, rising tensions with China, restrictions on domestic gaming and bans on junkets have also significantly impacted VIP business,” it said.

“However, mass domestic play continues to demonstrate resilience, underpinning the sector’s strength.

VIP play “has been almost zero since Australia closed its borders in March 2020,” Fitch said.

It does not expect significant VIP play to return until at least mid-2022.

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