Star Group Takes Plunge Reopening Flagship Casino In Sydney

Australian casino operator The Star Entertainment Group has taken the plunge by removing most constraints on the operations of its flagship casino in Sydney.

The Star announced on Wednesday that its eponymous venue in Sydney would allow “up to around 5,000 patrons” to access its “casino area,” in line with New South Wales guidance to allow a minimum spacing of four-square-meters per person.

On June 1, the Sydney casino, which was forced to close by mid-March to minimise COVID-19 transmission, was allowed to reopen on a restricted basis, with only 500 participants of its loyalty rewards programme permitted inside at any time. The casino was also limited to opening only their VIP-focused ‘special gaming rooms’ and a smattering of food & beverage outlets.

The Star has now opened its doors to members of the loyalty club, their friends and “the general public.” The property has now been given permission to operate both electronic gaming machines and table gaming positions, ensuring that sufficient social distance signage is in place and individuals not from the same household maintain a 1.5-meter separation.

As of Friday 3 July, the Star is also reopening its two Queensland properties in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The size of the Brisbane casino will be set at 2,300, and that of the Gold Coast at 2,600, in keeping with the social distance criteria of the state.

Star CEO Matt Bekier said the “conservative approach” in opening up The Star Sydney gave the company “further confidence in our operating and safety procedures.” Bekier said the present state would allow the company to “welcome back an additional approximately 3,000 employees” after laying off 8,100 workers following the shutdown order in March.

The Star said the performance of its Sydney casino in June had improved throughout the month as NSW authorities allowed an increased capacity for visitors. The average regular slot and table turnover was “comparable to 1H FY2020 private gaming room levels” as of June 19, when the limit was increased to 900 guests.

The average spending per visit was “materially higher” than the average for the first half of the fiscal H1 of the property – although the VIP win rate of H1 was the lowest in the company’s history – but the overall performance of the property in June was “significantly below normal levels given the operating restrictions.”

The new Sovereign room for foreign VIPs at the Sydney casino was initially scheduled to open in May but that was unlikely because of COVID-19. The Sovereign Room will now open on July 3 with a formal opening planned for August (although the country has recently announced that its borders are likely to remain closed until 2021 for international travellers).

The Star’s domestic competitor Crown Resorts recently reopened their Crown Perth casino on a limited basis, while their Melbourne property remains shuttered until Victoria ‘s state flaunts its COVID-19 curve.