Outside of Sydney, Star’s big game is still Brisbane, the Gold Coast

Outside of Sydney, Star’s big game is still Brisbane, the Gold Coast

Outside of Sydney, Star’s big game is still Brisbane, the Gold Coast

31 May, 2022

When Star Entertainment chairman John O’Neill addressed a recent Brisbane luncheon, he was buoyant about the company’s future.

And why not? According to O’Neill, the company had survived the worst of pandemic-related restrictions and, unlike other businesses, found customers seemingly unbothered by economic uncertainty.

“The people who are visiting our three premises at Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sydney are spending more money,” O’Neill said.

“The average spend is up substantially. There’s maybe a gap between the haves and the have-nots, but the disposable income of those going out is substantially up.”

O’Neill was also in friendly territory. Successive governments have embraced Star as a mainstay of Queensland’s tourism sector, being a company willing to invest in much-needed luxury products.

Star also played a role, behind the scenes, in brokering a south-east Queensland bid for the 2032 Olympics. O’Neill’s high-level dinner at Star’s Gold Coast casino will easily pay off.

At the recent lunch, he said the years after the 2032 Olympics offered the most promise. He believed Star was well-positioned to capitalise.

While in Sydney the company faced development hurdles, in Queensland it was able to expand the former Jupiters casino on the Gold Coast and forge ahead with the landmark Queen’s Wharf development in Brisbane.

But questions over Star’s integrity, and its Sydney operations, have not gone unnoticed north of the border.

Six months ago, Queensland Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the state Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation was, together with police and Austrac, “undertaking appropriate investigations”.

“The investigation will consider the appropriateness and effectiveness of Star’s due diligence processes in relation to anti-money-laundering, and how Star approaches exclusions to ensure people are excluded from all properties where appropriate,” Fentiman said at the time.

That there has yet to be any outcome or announcement suggests the Queensland investigation remains open and perhaps always will be. Fentiman has made clear authorities don’t stop monitoring such operations.

For now, Star and its consortium partners continue to push ahead with Queen’s Wharf, which will have at its heart up to 2500 gaming machines.

new pedestrian bridge is being built to bring customers direct from South Bank, and high-end accommodation, restaurants and shops are being planned to keep them on site.

It will transform Brisbane. Yet a lot could happen for Star over the next 18 months.

Crown, which at one point also wanted a stake in the Queensland market, had similar plans for Sydney with its major Barangaroo development - until it lost its seat at the table.

SOURCE: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/outside-of-sydney-star-s-big-game-is-still-brisbane-the-gold-coast-20220328-p5a8nn.html