Star Sydney fined for COVID-19 breach

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Self-exclusion fines draw criticism from NSW clubs and pubs

Australian casino operator The Star Entertainment Group has been hit with a financial penalty after breaching COVID-19 rules at its flagship Sydney casino.

Calvin Ayre reports that the New South Wales Liquor and Gaming body announced that it had imposed a $5000 penalty on The Star for allowing guests at its eponymous Sydney casino to consume alcohol while standing and mingling over the weekend.

All NSW venues that have been cleared to resume alcohol sales following the country’s pandemic shutdown are required to ensure patrons are seats while quaffing pints and cocktails.

Liquor and Gaming NSW compliance director Dimitri Argeres said The Star was “aware of its obligations” due to the regulator having paid two previous visits to the Sydney casino over the past two weeks to ensure compliance.

The Star partially reopened its Sydney venue in the first week of June, leading to a full reopening at the start of this month.

The venue’s ability to remain open could be in jeopardy after The Star confirmed Monday that one of its guests had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month.

The Star said Monday that it had learned from NSW Health officials that “a patron who visited The Star Sydney on Saturday, July 4 from around 7.30pm to 10.30pm had returned a positive COVID-19 test.”

The Star said it was working with officials “to respond to this information, including the conduct of contact tracing, including staff members.”

NSW is dealing with a new COVID-19 cluster involving more than 20 infections traced to a pub at Sydney’s Crossroads Hotel.

Chief health officer Kerry Chant said Monday that the outbreak demonstrated “how rapidly COVID-19 can spread if we do not act promptly.”

All patrons who visited the pub from July 3 to 10 have been ordered to self-isolate as a precaution.

Following this news, the NSW government is reportedly preparing to issue stricter requirements for venues.

Local media reported The Star won’t be subject to these new requirements, but much will depend on whether any future COVID-19 cases emerge that can be traced back to the venue’s guests or staff.

The Star’s local rival Crown Resorts was dealt a blow last week when Victorian officials extended the shutdown of non-essential retail operations in Melbourne for another six weeks.

The order spoiled the company’s plans to reopen its Crown Melbourne casino, which was Crown’s top earner last year.

Crown Melbourne closes its doors again

Melbourne’s Crown Casino will be closed for another six weeks as new coronavirus cases spike in the city.

Casino.org reported last week that from July 8 and running for at least six weeks, 5.2 million Victorians will be required to stay home – four exceptions being to shop for food and essential goods, to care for the elderly or those in need, outdoor exercise, or for work or study if it cannot be done from home.

As a result, Crown’s flagship property will remain closed until further notice.

The integrated casino resort suspended operations on March 23.

Melbourne restaurants, including those within the Crown complex began reopening on June 1 for in-person dining, but will now be forced to revert to only offering delivery and take away.

Mr Andrews said public health officials recommended the reimposition of a lockdown following then state experiencing 191 new COVID-19 cases in a single 24-hour period – the state’s highest one day total during the pandemic.

“We know we are on the cusp of something very, very bad,” he said.

“It is simply impossible when case rates are at this level to suppress and contain this virus without taking significant steps.”

Crown’s other casino resort in Perth reopened on June 27.

Star Entertainment, another Australian operator, recommenced operations last week at its properties in Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast.

The Perth casino has about 350 table games and 2000 electronic gaming machines.

The Melbourne casino has about 400 tables and 2500 machines.

Crown Melbourne is Australia’s largest casino and Crown Resorts derives the majority of its revenue from the property.

During the company’s 2019 fiscal year, Crown Resorts reported gross gaming revenue of A$3.14 billion.

Crown Melbourne was responsible for $1.5 billion or 68.5 per cent.

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