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Star exodus continues as Gold Coast CEO steps down

| By Robert Fletcher
Star Entertainment Group has announced the departure of another senior staff member, with Jessica Mellor stepping down as CEO of Star Gold Coast.
Star CEO Gold Coast

Mellor will officially depart the role on 24 May. Ian Brown, general manager of gaming at Star Gold Coast, will become acting CEO while Star seeks a permanent replacement.

As per her exit agreement, Mellor will provide support to Star until September. This, the operator said, will include assisting with the transition and other “important initiatives”.

Mellor has only led Star Gold Coast since October last year. In taking on the role, she became the venue’s youngest and first female CEO. She spent four and a half years as Star’s chief operating officer before taking on the role.

Prior to joining Star, Mellor was CEO at Aquis Entertainment and worked in acquisitions at Aquis Australia. She also had spells with Custodian Funds Management Group, the JLF Group of Companies and Leighton Contractors.

“Jessica has led The Star Gold Coast through some challenging times including through Covid,” Star executive chair David Foster said. “She has been instrumental in developing the Gold Coast property into an iconic world class integrated destination resort with our joint venture partners.

“Jessica has decided the time is right to move on. She leaves with both the board’s and my personal thanks, for her tireless efforts as CEO of Star Gold Coast.”

Star also loses CEO and CFO

Mellor’s departure is the latest from Star in recent weeks, with several other senior staff also exiting.

In mid-March, it was announced that Robbie Cooke was standing down as group CEO and managing director. Christina Katsibouba will also exit as chief financial officer.

Cooke took over as CEO of Star in November 2022. In doing so, he became the operator’s fourth CEO in the space of year, following Matt Bekier, who resigned during The Star’s New South Wales investigation, John O’Neill and Geoff Hogg.

Last month, Star said a leadership change is in the company’s best interests. Foster will take on additional duties as executive chair while a search for a permanent CEO is conducted.

Katsibouba is leaving to pursue other interests away from the business. Former Tatts Group CFO Neale O’Connell will be taking on the role on an interim basis.

Star slips to Q3 net loss

This month, Star also published a trading update for Q3. This included a 4.6% fall in revenue to AU$419.2m (£216.1m/€252.6m)/US$269.0m). 

Star said revenue from its properties’ premium gaming rooms fell year-on-year. This was felt across the board – premium gaming rooms revenue fell 19.3% at The Star Sydney. For The Star Gold Coast this decrease hit 20.0%, while at Treasury Brisbane it was 28%.

However, revenue from the main gaming floor was positive. This was up by 5.4% at The Star Sydney, 4.6% at The Star Gold Coast and 6.4% at Treasury Brisbane. However, premium gaming rooms revenue caused overall revenue at all three properties to fall 4.6%.

Not all financial results were revealed in the update. Of those made public, these included a net loss after tax of $6.8m. However, this was a positive result compared to the $49.7m loss recorded in Q3 2023.

Second Bell inquiry launches

Q3 also saw the news that the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission will conduct a second inquiry into Star. This is a successor to the infamous Bell report. 

Entitled Bell Two, the inquiry began on 19 February and will run until 31 May.

The first Bell report uncovered a series of anti-money laundering and social responsibility failings at Star Sydney. It recommended 30 measures to improve practices. One year after the initial inquiry was published, a report revealed Star had put 22 of the 30 proposals into practice.

The second inquiry is focusing on the culture at Star and the effects of the first Bell report.

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