The first proper hearing – following an introductory session last month – convened in Brisbane earlier today, during which Jonathan Horton QC made several accusations against The Star.
Among his allegations, one concerned high-risk gamblers, who Horton claims were enticed by The Star to travel to Queensland, despite “red flags.”
“There’s the issue of some persons being actively encouraged to come to Queensland and being given benefits to do so, even though – and this might be an understatement – red flags existed, which ought to have led to their exclusion, let alone not inducing the person to be here,” he said.
Horton also covered allegations that The Star allowed Chinese nationals to gamble using China UnionPay (CUP) debit or credit facilities, in spite of currency movement restrictions.
He suggested that China UnionPay cards were used for funds credited to patrons’ hotel room accounts, but were in fact used for gambling.
“[The Star] would confirm the cardholder’s identity, they would swipe their card at a terminal at the hotel reception where a room charge account was opened in their name,” Horton said.
“Two; the transaction took place at the front office using a CUP debit card in the customer’s name. Three; once successfully processed, they’d be issued with a confirmation receipt.
“Four; the customer would then be escorted to the casino cage by a VIP executive host, where the funds were deposited to that person’s front-money account.”
This practice ended in “early March 2020,” but in total, Horton said “some AU$55m” (US$37.8m) was transacted in Star casinos using this process.
However, he did acknowledge “this is less than seems to be the case in New South Wales.”
Ultimately, Horton said the inquiry will not be “investigating suitability as such,” but this does not mean that its findings are “not relevant to the assessment of suitability.”