Star executive chair O’Neill exits ahead of hearing testimony

| By Daniel O'Boyle
Star Entertainment executive chairman John O’Neill has announced he will step down from the role and from the Australian casino operator's board.
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His departure comes after less than two months in the position, and less than a week before he gives evidence for the review of The Star Sydney’s licence.

O’Neill – who had been the operator’s chairman – was appointed executive chair on an interim basis on 1 April, following the resignation of managing director and CEO Matt Bekier.

However, he will now also leave both his role as chair and his executive responsibilities “with a departure date to be agreed”. Star had already commenced a search for a permanent chief executive, while arrangements for an interim chair will be announced when they are finalised.

Much of O’Neill’s term as chairman had been characterised by a review into Star’s business amid accusations that the operator knowingly worked with junkets that had ties to criminal groups and that its anti-money laundering measures were insufficient.

A number of Star staff members have given evidence in a review by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority into Star’s licence, which covers many of these accusations. O’Neill is scheduled to be the last witness to give evidence, on 23 May.

The review of The Star Sydney began in June 2021, and focused on assessing whether The Star was eligible for an operating licence in New South Wales.