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The Star remediation plan was “too ambitious”, fraud could happen again: executives

Executives from The Star have highlighted shortcomings in the group’s remediation efforts, with one top official claiming they were “too ambitious” and another noting that fraud issues could possibly happen again.

According to the Australian Financial Review, ‘former’ Chief Transformation Officer Nicola Burke told the New South Wales inquiry body that the group was in a rush to “demonstrate the suitability” and, as such, “front-loaded” the plan.

The publication notes that Burke had resigned in March, however she’s still listed as active both on the company’s website and her own social media. AGB has reached out to The Star for confirmation.

Nicola Burke, The Star Chief Transformation Officer
Nicola Burke, The Star Chief Transformation Officer

Burke in early April was reported to be filling the Chief Transformation Officer role left vacant by the upcoming departure of The Star Sydney CEO Scott Wharton. On the company’s website she’s listed as Chief Transformation Officer (pending regulatory approval), with the group stating she had held the position since May of 2023, however in previous communications she had been listed as General Manager Transformation Office since late 2021.

Speaking to the NSW Inquiry on Monday also was The Star’s Chief Risk Officer, Scott Saunders, who expressed faith in the ongoing remediation strategy of the group.

According to the AFR, Saunders noted that the company should “slow down” its processes noting that “some of what we’re doing […] we’re not landing fully in terms of driving change across our properties”.

The executive highlighted one incident of fraud, noting that “the technical issue that led to that event being possible has been resolved. I can’t say it would never happen again”.

The executive furthered that “I do feel like the plan that we put forward for remediation is sound”, but notes that it is a “very challenging environment and it’s not getting easier”.

The Star has been under pressure to prove that it should retain its gaming license in the state, after public hearings as part of the ‘Bell Two’ inquiry began last week.

Both prior to and amongst the ongoing inquiry there have been a series of resignations, including Group CEO and Managing Director Robbie Cooke, in late March.

The inquiry is expected to release its findings by May 31st, one month prior to the end of the extended period for the Special Manager – appointed to manage The Star amongst its remediation efforts.

The Special Manager, Nicolas Weeks, told the inquiry last week that certain ongoing problems – such as a AU$3.2 million ticket-in/cash-out terminal which allowed multiple winnings claims from single tickets – exhibited a “deep cultural problem”.

Scott Saunders, Chief Risk Officer, The Star
Scott Saunders, The Star Chief Risk Officer

Chief Risk Officer Saunders noted that within The Star’s corporate culture “there is a little bit of comfort with lack of precision, which led to the balancing issues not being escalated in the way they should have”.

Saunders claims the group is moving away from a mentality of “the customer is always right” and moving it towards a “highly-regulated entity”, with a particular focus on curbing gambling addiction.

Kelsey Wilhelm
Kelsey Wilhelm
Kelsey Wilhelm is a broadcast, print journalist and editor based in Asia for over 15 years. Focused on content creation, management, cross-cultural exchange and interviews for multi-lingual productions. Writing focus on gaming, business, politics, culture and heritage, events and celebrities, subcultures, music, film, art and fashion. Some of Kelsey's specialties are: editing, writing, copy creation, multi-lingual content production, cross-cultural exchange, content creation and management for Asian markets.