Star Casino Executives Caught Spying on Regulator, Planning Legal Action

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Gavin Harper
by Gavin Harper

A new investigation into Australia’s Star Entertainment has uncovered a troubling revelation: the company’s previous CEO and current chair, Robbie Cooke and David Foster, spied on Nicholas Weeks, the manager of Star’s Sydney flagship. The inquiry revealed they intended to use the information obtained to file a class action lawsuit against Weeks and the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC). This development is the latest in dramatic twists for operators in Australia’s gambling landscape.

The Aggressive Course of Action

The ongoing clashes stem from an inquiry that led to Star Sydney’s license suspension in 2022. In October of that year, the NICC appointed Nicholas Weeks as the special steering manager to ensure continued operations. According to Mr. Weeks’ current evaluation, the casino has yet to implement crucial reforms, and the regulator-appointed management also believes it has not met standard regulatory goals for licensed casino operators.

Mr. Weeks expressed concerns about the fundamental challenges in structures and governance procedures necessary to sustain one of the leading Australian real money casinos without a manager. A leadership deficit at the highest administrative level could open up additional opportunities for illicit operations. Previously, the casino was found to have supported the activities of a gang-related junket operator, housing an individual running an illicit enterprise in a first-class gaming room. This led to Chinese debit card transactions taking place on the premises, falsely recorded as hotel charges.

Following his appointment, Mr. Weeks sought to monitor the casino’s improvements but felt the firm was slow to implement proactive corrections. The faults were so severe that the casino lost money for extended periods before addressing them. Mr. Weeks submitted two reports to Star’s management detailing the remaining flaws that need to be addressed.

The Trigger Report

Initially, the Star’s management applauded the first report. However, the atmosphere did not last long. During the second meeting, the management team, including former CEO Robbie Cooke and chair David Foster, expressed broad discontent. The couple delivered a lengthy statement forcefully opposing the report.

The unexpected remark startled and irritated Mr Weeks. He believed it contrasted sharply with what the Star’s board had previously led him to believe. According to the interim management, the firm’s dismal response demonstrated that it was unwilling or unable to implement the recommended improvements.

Worse, the managerial team’s email discussions indicated that they intended to further misinterpret the findings in order to remove Mr. Weeks. In one of the emails, Mr Froster radicalized Mr. Cooke by instructing him to prepare for battle, assuming the regulator was doing the same. Weeks found it troubling that people were conspiring to get rid of him rather than working to rebuild a trust-based relationship between Star Casino and the regulator.

Weeks was especially disturbed that the two leaders wanted to fight him even though their business was at stake. It would have been smarter to collaborate, given that the Sydney flagship’s license had been suspended.

An Act of Espionage

The real issue arose when Foster and Cooke took a more reactive stance towards the NICC’s regulation. In early February, the two casino executives secretly spied on a meeting involving Nicholas Weeks, two law firms, and Liquor and Gaming NSW. This decision was made a day before the meeting, and it focused on responding to Weeks’ report. The two executives were accused of monitoring Weeks’ diary. This revelation was particularly shocking given the regulator’s efforts to improve the company’s trustworthiness and extend an olive branch to its leadership.

Weeks found it disrespectful that Foster and Cooke were considering grounds for a class action lawsuit against him and the NICC despite their involvement being intended to promote the company’s well-being. The investigation also uncovered a widespread culture of fabrication and evasion at Star. Credible sources claimed that the casino’s support staff was purposefully misrepresenting information, which had become a go-to strategy for the organization. This behavior was particularly prevalent among those speaking with guests who had been at the casino for over three hours. These and other faults have cost the casino heavily in fines, with observable flaws leading to decreased share value.

Final Thoughts

Star Sydney Casino has recently been at the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. What began as corrective measures quickly escalated into a war against regulators. However, given the consequences of failure and the NICC’s obvious resolve, Star Entertainment is expected to adopt a better course of action, leaning more toward compliance in the near future.

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