Star stands down 90 per cent of its staff

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
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The Star Entertainment Group has been forced to stand down 90 per cent of its 9,000 strong workforce at its casinos on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney.

My GC reports that coronavirus is to blame for the stand down, with casinos, bars and restaurants shut.

The company’s hotels remain open, but in a reduced capacity.

In a statement to the ASX on Thursday, Star said the shutdown of casinos will have a “material impact on The Star’s operations.”

“Management is focused on implementing strategies to minimise impacts and conserve liquidity.

“These include materially lowering operating costs and reducing capital expenditure.

“The Star has taken a very difficult, but necessary decision in relation to its workforce.

“We are in the process of temporarily standing down more than 90 per cent of our approximately 9,000 employees. These stand downs include senior management.”

Employees who are stood down will be given two weeks of paid pandemic leave.

Staff will also be able to access any annual or long service leave they have accrued.

The Board and senior management will have their directors’ fees and salaries slashed with details of those arrangements to be finalised in coming days.

“The Star will continue to monitor developments in the coronavirus situation and the impacts on The Star’s business.

“At this time, we are unable to reliably advise of the impacts on financial performance due to the uncertain duration of the current circumstances.”

Crown to close its Melbourne gaming floor

Crown Resorts will close the main gaming floor at its flagship Melbourne casino after it was stripped of its exemption from social distancing rules aimed at arresting the spread of coronavirus.

The Age reported this week that the Victorian government had provided Crown’s Southbank complex with a controversial exemption from the rules limiting indoor gatherings to 100 people.

The James Packer-backed casino giant offered its own suited of policies, such a deactivating every second poker machine and limiting attendance numbers at restaurants, bars, ballrooms and conference facilities.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday said the chief health officer had revoked the exemption.

“We’re not confident the measures that were in place and were appropriate are appropriate now,” Mr Andrews said.

The revocation prompted the casino to inform staff on Saturday afternoon that it would close the main gaming floor.

Smaller gambling rooms, such as the Mahogany Room, will remain operating.

Deakin University public health and gaming expert Samantha Thomas said Crown should have been playing by the same rules as everyone else from the start.

A former chief medical officer, John Horvath and a former secretary for Commonwealth Department of Health, Jane Halton, both sit on the casino’s board.

“This should have been implemented much earlier and the government should understand that pandemics trump gambling profits,” Professor Thomas said.

Calls for the temporary shutdown of Crown’s casino escalated this week after gaming giants around the world, including Las Vegas, have closed their venues in response to the pandemic.

Australian public health officials from every state and territory wrote to gaming ministries saying poker machine venues often attracted older people who were at a heightened risk of illness or death from coronavirus, as well as people who might be unable to exercise rational decision making to avoid venues due to addiction.

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