Star Casino at ‘major risk’ from organized crime

A former chair of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority says Sydney’s Star Casino is at ‘major risk’ from organized crime after dramatic changes to casino regulation in NSW, ABC News reports.

Chris Sidoti, who quit his post in February, said last year’s legislative changes which shift specialist casino inspectors into a larger pool of inspectors will open up the doors for organized crime.

According to ABC News, 19 out of 20 specialist government inspectors and auditors who were permanently based at The Star casino have taken voluntary redundancy from their positions.

“I’m particularly concerned about the lack of expertise in casino inspectors now,” Sidoti said.

“These positions have been generalized, we now have the same inspectors carrying out all inspections for poker machines, all licensed venues and the casino as well.”

“It’s unreasonable to expect that an inspector watching minors drinking in the local pub is also going to have the expertise to identify organised criminal activity in the casino.”

Last year, legislation saw the creation of a new government department, Liquor and Gaming NSW, which now acts as the industry regulator.

As part of the “shake-up”, government inspectors and auditors that were previously based at The Star were absorbed into a larger team of inspectors to perform spot-checks and random, targeted compliance.

Sidoti said the changes would lead to a reduction in regulation.

“We will see issues arising about the regulation of the casinos such that there are increased risks of organised crime,” he said.

However, a spokesman for Liquor and Gaming NSW defended the change, saying that in-house inspectors were “no longer best practice”, because inspectors were vulnerable to “regulatory capture”, which means they could be influenced by the casino operators.

He noted that NSW was the second-last state to abandon permanent in-house casino gaming inspectors.