The Stars Bid For Gold Coast Casino Monopoly Fails

A bid for a 30-year Gold Coast casino monopoly by Australian casino operator, The Star Entertainment Group’s has come to nothing following failed talks with Queensland’s State Government.

Minister of State Development Kate Jones reported on Friday that the government of Queensland had failed to reach “consensus around the terms for long-term casino licence exclusivity” for The Star. Jones added that the government had “worked really hard to extract value from The Star, but the deal on the table did not stack up for taxpayers.”

The Star runs two casinos in Queensland including one in Gold Coast. The business is currently expanding its Gold Coast properties and vowed to increase the investment significantly last October if the state granted The Star a 30-year local monopoly on casino operations.

Although The Star may have lost its bid to formalise its existing monopoly, Jones said Friday that the effect of COVID-19 on current economic conditions meant that the state “has no intention of reviving market process for a new integrated resort – including a second casino – on the Gold Coast.”

Chairman John O’Neill of the Star didn’t seem too distressed at the loss, saying his company would “continue to invest” in the area “under the right conditions.” The company is building a large integrated resort called Queen’s Wharf Brisbane along with two Asian joint venture partners.

The Star reported this week that Australian private equity firm Yarra Funds Management Limited has ceased to be a significant shareholder in a potentially related growth. As recently as January this year, Yarra was considered to be the second-largest shareholder of the company with 5.2 per cent of the common stock of The Star.

Following its prolonged COVID-19 closure, the Star completely reopened its flagship Sydney casino earlier this month and the two Queensland properties reopened a few days later. But with Australia’s external borders still locked, a company exec said this week that for the near future, the Gold Coast property will need to concentrate on domestic customers.

Speaking of international clients, this week’s International Commercial Court of Singapore again dismissed The Star’s attempts to compel a Singaporean high-roller to honour its gambling debts. Last year, the corporation filed a lawsuit against Wong Yew Choy after failing to accept a AU$43.2 m target he ran up in 2018 over a five-day gambling session at the Gold Coast casino, based on his allegations that croupiers of The Star were incompetent.

Last October, the Court dismissed the attempts of The Star to compel Wong to pay up, citing local laws that allow gamblers to pay debts only if they are incurred through the two integrated resorts in Singapore. The Star appealed the decision, but this week the Court dismissed the appeal, stating that the law of Singapore had no effect on debts incurred in foreign casinos.