Star Entertainment CEO Resigns As NSW Commission Extends License Considerations

As the New South Wales authorities continue to monitor the implementation of the cultural change within Star Entertainment Group requested after non-compliance allegations, Robby Cooke, the chief executive officer of Star Entertainment Group, has officially resigned from the position held since 2022. As Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports, Cooke’s resignation comes as a consequence of the assumption that the NSW regulator will not approve a gaming license for the Star’s landmark Pyrmont casino during the Cooke’s leadership. As reported, group’s chief financial officer Christina Katsibouba followed with her resignation on 22 March.

Long License Renewal Process Triggers Cooke’s Resignation:

The group reportedly commented: “Cooke and the board consider a change in leadership to be in the best interests of the company at this time – in particular having formed the view that the continuation of Cooke’s leadership of the group was not going to be conducive to the NSW Independent Casino Commission determining to find The Star capable of becoming suitable to hold a licence in NSW.”

As reported by SMH, Robby Cooke joined the group in October 2022 and focused to recover the Star’s casino license. But the CEO has since faced complications with the NSW tax proposals, Queens Wharf casino operation, and an extended gaming license renewal process. As reported, such a series of issues made Cooke to resign with “considerable reluctance and a heavy heart”.

Regulator Claimed Insufficient Cultural Changes:

The license renewal process was additionally slowed down last month with the NSW regulator’s notice that this entity would start another investigation into The Star after it still considered the group’s cultural changes insufficient to trigger the license recovery, according to SMH. Cooke reportedly commented: “Noting these individuals were not on The Star’s executive committee at the time the offending conduct identified in the original Bell inquiry occurred, and I am not aware of any basis to suggest they were bad actors. Secondly, it also seems that the Chief Commissioner did not consider I was moving with sufficient speed with the reforms and changes being implemented at The Star – a view with which I respectfully and fundamentally disagree.”

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New Corporate Structure:

After resignation, Cooke will act as the group’s consultant for the next six months to reportedly ”enable an orderly transition” of the executive role. The Star will reportedly now have a completely changed executive leadership after it appointed Daniel Finch and Janelle Campbell new chief executive officers for the company’s Brisbane and, respectively, Sydney operations, as reported by SMH.

The same source reports that the related Katsibouba’s resignation will bring Neale O’Connell to the interim group chief financial officer position from next week. The Star reportedly commented : “Katsibouba has decided to leave to pursue other interests. During her term, Katsibouba was instrumental in implementing the company’s capital structure initiatives during 2023.”

NSW Commission Commences Second Compliance Investigation:

As reported, the group’s market value has declined since the first state investigation into the company in 2022 that reportedly found evidence of non-compliant operations. Barrister Adam Bell will repo kagame rtedly lead the investigation again to see whether The Star has made a progress to become eligible for a gaming license. Otherwise, as SMH reports, revoking the license is one of the five available options for the commission.

The head of the NSW Independent Casino Commission, Philip Crawford reportedly said: “We do not take this decision lightly, but I’m not yet sure they have addressed the cultural reform Bell identified in his first report. Cultural change does take time, but you’ve got to be on the right track to start with; otherwise you’re just embedding the bad culture.”