The Star Casino in Sydney has closed most of its operations for at least a week because of new COVID-19 restrictions. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Latest set of restrictions
The Star Sydney casino resort has suspended nearly all of its operations for at least a week because of new COVID-19 restrictions in the region. This decision came as the New South Wales (NSW) government put into place new restrictions on Friday to counter rising virus cases.
outbreak linked to a limousine driver who had driven an international flight crew
By Friday morning, case numbers had risen to 65, with the outbreak linked to a limousine driver who had driven an international flight crew from the airport to their hotel. Four local government areas in NSW, including the City of Sydney, went into lockdown at 11:59pm on Friday night.
This led to the announcement from The Star Entertainment Group regarding its Sydney casino facility. The statement said that the property would “cease operations, apart from limited hotel facilities, from this time as a result of the orders.” Staff will receive their normal pay despite the closure.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, The Star Sydney has been subject to four different sets of closures or capacity restrictions. Before Friday’s announcement, the last set of restrictions was at Christmas time following a small outbreak of virus cases.
To ensure that hospitality venues across the region are compliant with the latest COVID-19 restrictions, there will be an increase in inspections. This will involve inspectors from Liquor and Gaming NSW, as well as Fair Trading NSW and Safework NSW.
These inspectors will make sure that properties have COVID safety plans and are adhering to the relevant check-in processes. They will also make sure that there is proper mask-wearing and social distancing taking place. Any venues that are found to be in breach of the Public Health Orders could face a fine or a total closure for more serious breaches as they “pose a clear and significant risk to public health.”
As part of the new rules, all staff at indoor hospitality venues will have to wear masks. A one person per four square-meters rule has also gone into place for both outdoor and indoor settings. Liquor and Gaming NSW has carried out more than 200 inspections over the last couple of months on hospitality venues. These have resulted in 14 fines totaling AU$40,000 (US$30,371).
Anti-money laundering issues at The Star Sydney
This latest closure of The Star Sydney comes just a few weeks after reports that the casino might have made some serious breaches of anti-money laundering regulations in Australia. Alleged violations include a lack of due diligence obligations for politically exposed and high-risk customers and anti-money laundering procedure failings.
The country’s financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC identified a number of possible breaches at Star Entertainment’s flagship casino that took place between 2016 and 2019. AUSTRAC has not yet issued a regulatory response and the matter is now in the hands of its enforcement team. These reports came out soon after Star Entertainment proposed an AU$9bn (US$6.83bn) takeover of main casino rival Crown Resorts.