Wesley Mission is pleased to see the NSW Independent Casino Commission use its powers to suspend The Star’s licence and apply the maximum $100 million fine – but these measures do not go far enough to protect the community.
The appointment of a manager is similar to the measures applied to Crown Melbourne following the Victorian Royal Commission. Wesley Mission CEO, Rev Stu Cameron notes that the harm to the community detailed in the Bell report should see Star Sydney’s operations cease until community safety is prioritised.
“It is not just in the public interest to protect 8,000 employees but to protect far greater numbers of patrons from The Star’s exploitative operations. Adam Bell SC’s report details cases of individual people exposed to gambling harms, including inducing some of its most vulnerable patrons with free alcohol and knowingly allowing people to gamble for more than 24 hours at a time,” says Cameron.
“The Star has said it welcomes some 52,000 guests every Friday and Saturday night to the casino floor – at this scale, the potential harm to the community is too great to allow Star Sydney to continue to operate. Again, the NSW community seems to come off second best where gambling industry profits are concerned.”
The NICC’s Chief Commissioner, Philip Crawford, noted a “change in attitude” as a reason for applying a suspension only.
“This change must have been very recent because even as inquiries looked into similar unethical practices at Crown, Star Sydney did not change its ways,” says Cameron.
“The Australian public has grown cynical that any Australian casino will lose its licence, even as two Royal Commissions and three inquiries in four states have found operators unsuitable.
“Wesley Mission will continue making representations to the NICC regarding harm minimisation, including ensuring that any move to cashless gambling incorporates strong harm prevention measures.
“All these enquiries have had money laundering at their core; still, Wesley Mission’s focus is on harm minimisation, which we see in our work across NSW, where gambling harm often leads to homelessness, relationship breakdown, mental and physical ill health, and financial stress.”
Monday 17 – Sunday 23 October 2022 is Gambling Harm Awareness Week, (also known as GambleAware Week) an annual initiative to increase awareness of gambling harm in the NSW community.
587,000 individuals in NSW are estimated to be experiencing harm directly from gambling and an additional 1.2 million are estimated to experience gambling harm through someone close to them.
For media reporting on gambling harm, please strongly consider including help-seeking information:
- You can find support information on the GambleAware website: https://www.gambleaware.nsw.gov.au/i-need-support
- Speak to a counsellor 24 hours a day via the GambleAware Helpline on 1800 858 858
- Counselling is confidential and free of charge and is available to both individuals and family members experiencing gambling harm.