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The Star casino accused of underreporting assaults

Thu, Nov 3, 9:19am by Staff Writer

The Star casino in Sydney is under fire after leaked government documents revealed the venue’s systematic refusal to report assaults and other on-site crimes to police, per a report published by the ABC.

The ABC report cited a review conducted by the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Justice, which was released to the media outlet by an anonymous source.

During the review, inspectors from Liquor and Gaming NSW pored through daily incident reports generated by The Star from March through August of this year. After discovering that a majority of these incidents were recorded as ‘behavior’ issues or ‘forced removals’ from the premises, the inspectors then arranged to review internal security reports and surveillance footage from the corresponding time period.

By comparing the internal reports to phone logs, the inspectors found that 111 incidents involving physical violence between patrons occurred at The Star over those six months. Of those, The Star’s security apparatus chose to contact local police just 36 times, keeping the issue off the record on 75 occasions.

Among the unreported incidents cited by the ABC report were a patron who suffered a broken leg while scuffling on the Marquee nightclub dance floor, a brawl between five patrons, and routine use of force by security guards, including chokeholds and headbutts.

Furthermore, the investigation revealed that 79 percent of violent incidents at The Star were not mentioned in the monthly report provided to casino executives – a report which is then distributed to the NSW state government.

As noted by the ABC report, extrapolating these figures would suggest that more than 250 violent incidents take place at The Star each year – with most of them going unreported to police, casino executives, and state regulators.

To put that incident rate into perspective, the ABC cites the most violent pub in NSW, the Plantation Hotel in Coffs Harbour, which was the setting of 21 recorded acts of violence in all of 2015. Using the leaked figures from The Star as a baseline, Sydney’s centerpiece casino is actually 10 times more violent than any other establishment in the region.

As indicated by the Department of Justice review, these findings may have serious ramifications for The Star’s licensing status, because institutional obfuscation of security incident data represents a serious breach of protocol, and a disruption of regulatory activity:

“Of concern is the fact that violent incidents are not being reported to police in many instances, irrespective of the apparent severity of incident.”

“This means that statistical violent incident trends for the casino are not necessarily accurate.”

“(It also) reduces the oversight of violent incidents at the casino, which in turn, precludes the preparation of internal processes and procedures to deal with the causes of violent incidents.”

On October 14, the Deputy Secretary of Liquor, Gaming and Emergency Management, Paul Newson, sent a letter to Star City managing director Greg Hawkins, who cited ‘troubling’ inconsistencies while noting that ‘the scale of the variation in this case is disturbing’. The casino was given 14 days to provide a response explaining itself, and the enhanced security reporting measures now in place to prevent further issues.

The government documents reveal that most violent incidents inside The Star take place in the Marquee and Rock Lily nightclubs, with 42 percent occurring between the hours of midnight and 3:00 a.m. local time.

In a statement issued to address the ABC report, representatives for The Star assailed the government review’s process for failing to understand the casino’s reporting system:

“(This review) demonstrates a misunderstanding of the incident reporting process at The Star. The report fails to address that NSW Police had an onsite presence at The Star between February and September 2015.

“That onsite presence was subsequently removed. If police had any concerns, it is inconceivable that those resources would have been withdrawn.”

“The Star is the most highly-regulated licensed operator in NSW and willingly provided confidential internal reports to Liquor and Gaming NSW, which was established as the new regulator earlier this year. On that basis, there can be no suggestion The Star does not adequately report incidents.”

“The Star has had no chance to discuss the content of the report with L&G NSW. It is an opportunity The Star has now been offered, and has accepted. However, The Star is still waiting for those discussions to occur.”

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