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Queensland mulls new casino legislation

| By Marese O'Hagan
New legislation from the Queensland government could see tighter controls placed on casinos in the state.
Star Queensland licence

The Casino Control and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 would allow the government to enact all recommendations outlined in its review of the Star Entertainment Group’s Queensland operations.

The Star was found to be “unsuitable” to hold a licence in Queensland in October 2022, following the Gotterson Review. The Star operates The Star Gold Coast casino and Treasury Brisbane in the state. The operator was subsequently fined $100m and its licence was suspended.

The bill was introduced into parliament by Yvette D’Ath, attorney-general and minister for justice. D’Ath is also the minister for the prevention of domestic and family violence. If successful, the bill would amend a number of existing gambling laws in Queensland, including the Casino Control Act 1982 and the Gaming Machine Act 1991.

“The Palaszczuk government is committed to ensuring Queensland casinos operate under strict laws that prioritise integrity and gambling harm minimisation,” said D’Ath. “This bill will enable us to continue our work in implementing all 12 recommendations outlined in Mr Gotterson’s review.

“The new laws will ensure organisations associated with Queensland casinos are subject to inquiries every five years. This will assist in determining the ongoing suitability of those organisations.”

What does the bill outline?

The bill’s provisions are largely focused on safer gambling efforts and tightening casino operations. It would see carded play made mandatory in Queensland casinos. This would mean that players would have to pre-load money onto a card in order to gamble at casinos. Player activity would therefore be more easily tracked.

Casinos would also have to implement a pre-commitment system for players. This system would prohibit players from gambling in a casino unless they submit to certain rules and would include mandatory breaks and limits on losses.

Casinos could receive a written notice from police instructing them to exclude an individual from a casino. In this instance, a casino operator must issue the person with the exclusion notice as soon as possible.

The bill would also impose a supervision levy on casino operators. The amount would be determined by the minister before the beginning of each financial year.

“Casino executives will be required to undertake particular duties in relation to the operation of a casino and there will be significant personal penalties for non-compliance,” D’Ath continued. “There will also be a supervision levy imposed on casino licensees so that the costs of regulating casinos will not be passed onto taxpayers.

“These reforms will continue to modernise Queensland’s gambling and casino laws to ensure they remain effective now and into the future.”

Troubled history at The Star

The Queensland government’s investigation into The Star was first announced in June 2022. The then-attorney-general, Shannon Fentiman, said the review would take place following anti-money laundering and player safety concerns. Fentiman appointed former judge Robert Gotterson to head the review.

Later that month, it was confirmed that the review would specifically look at China UnionPay payments. The Star was found to have made a “concerted effort” to mislead banks on the intentions behind China UnionPay transactions.

In November 2022, The Star was presented with show cause notices for its two casinos off the back of the review.

Queensland is not the only state to have investigated The Star. The operator was also found to have committed a litany of failures elsewhere, and was subsequently classed unsuitable to hold a licence in New South Wales.

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