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Star Entertainment inks jobs guarantee deal in NSW

| By Richard Mulligan
Star Entertainment Group has announced a binding deal with the New South Wales (NSW) authorities which will require it to maintain a minimum headcount at its Sydney operations.

Under the same agreement with the NSW treasurer, Daniel Mookhey, Star Entertainment will also begin a trial of cashless and carded play at its Sydney casino. That is a precursor to the reforms to be introduced later this year in NSW.

The jobs guarantee agreement was approved by Star Entertainment along with the NSW authorities and United Workers Union. The Star has agreed to maintain a minimum headcount and certain ratios of full-time, part-time and casual employees. The agreement runs until 30 June 2030.

Following amendments to the Casino Control Act, penalties can apply to The Star for failing to comply with the commitment. The jobs commitment is subject to certain permitted adjustments in certain circumstances, including for material adverse change events.

In August last year, Star Entertainment secured concessions on casino duty rates with the NSW state. It has since worked on a transition plan to stabilise operations at its Sydney casino and curb further cuts.

Cashless casino play trial agreed

Star Entertainment has also agreed to a trial of cashless and carded play at The Star Sydney.

The trial is a precursor to reforms to the NSW regulatory framework which will see cashless gaming and carded play introduced from August 2024. The trial will apply to 51 poker machines and eight table games until the framework comes into effect.

Commenting on the formalisation of the arrangements, Star Entertainment chief executive Robbie Cooke, said: “The Star appreciates the constructive engagement with the current NSW government that has led to finalisation of an agreement that provides employment certainty for our dedicated and hardworking team members in Sydney.

“As we continue to focus on earning back the trust of the community and implementing the reforms required to restore The Star to suitability, we are also committed to the continuation of our role as a valuable contributor to the NSW economy.”

Star Entertainment’s AU$2.4bn full-year loss

Last August, Star Entertainment announced a full-year loss of AU$2.4bn ($1.6bn/€1.5bn/£1.2bn) as it counted the cost of a write down in the value of its casinos.

Star Entertainment, which has faced a string of penalties, announced $2.8bn of outgoings labelled “significant items” during the year.

This consisted of an AU$2.2bn non-cash impairment of the Sydney, Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane goodwill and property assets. There were also regulatory and legal costs of AU$595m, debt restructuring costs of AU$54m and redundancy costs of AU$16m.

Those costs, minus a positive and growing EBITDA of AU$317m, means an after tax loss of AU$2.4bn.

Star Entertainment was declared unsuitable to hold a casino licence in New South Wales in September 2022. Adam Bell SC’s report outlined a catalogue of AML and social responsibility failings at The Star Sydney stretching back years. A year later, a report into The Star Sydney’s progress found the casino had implemented 22 of 30 recommended measures from the Bell report.

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