Dirty money, criminal infiltration, and management turning a blind eye are now all too familiar allegations uncovered by several inquiries into Australia’s casino industry.

The latest is the Star Casino in Sydney, which faces the possibility of being stripped of its licence if it cannot persuade the new casino regulator it should remain open.

In his findings released this week, Adam Bell SC was excoriating in his descriptions of The Star’s misconduct. It was “dysfunctional”, “deceptive”, and “brazenly misleading”.

The Star, according to Mr Bell, facilitated money laundering, ignored warnings about links to criminals, treated the gaming regulator with disdain and misled one of the big four banks.

The culture was, he said, putting business goals before compliance. In other words, money spoke louder than the law.

And yet for all the savage flourishes in his four-volume report, the inquiry did not make any adverse findings against the casino’s directors, nor did it make any recommendations for criminal proceedings.

Whether or not The Star will be allowed to continue to operate will be decided by the new NSW Independent Casino Commission, set up in response to other unseemly findings in the separate Bergin inquiry into Crown Casino at Barangaroo.

Speaking to 7.30, chief commissioner Philip Crawford would not publicly declare his view about The Star’s licence but said he could not let the casino’s breaches pass.

“We can’t really have a company in that industry, limping along, struggling with its integrity,” he said.

“Misleading and deceptive conduct is all over the place, but [there is] no direct criminal conduct and breach of any criminal laws that I’m aware of.”

Any criminal behaviour by The Star’s gambling patrons might be spelt out in the fourth volume of Mr Bell’s report, which refers to individuals facing pre-existing criminal proceedings.

Overall, the gist of Mr Bell’s report is that there were shady characters associated with The Star, and that casino management knew about it, and let it all happen.

Questions over conduct of senior management

Mr Crawford told 7.30 that the company needed shaking up.

“I think all of the directors that were there during the relevant period were hugely embarrassed, feel compromised, feel let down by the senior executives,” he said.

“They were clearly kept in the dark by most of this stuff and I think really it’s appropriate that they all move on.”

Some board members and executives have already left, including former CEO Matt Bekier, while others have indicated they are leaving, Mr Crawford said.

For now, the lights are still on at The Star, which has said it will comply with orders to respond to the commission in 14 days.


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