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Sorry, no dice: Star fails in bid to have new casino laws watered down

Business

State Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee has dismissed Star Entertainment’s attempts to take some of the sting out of proposed changes to the Casino Control Act.

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Casino operator Star had hoped that a last-ditch attempt might get Queensland’s proposed tough new casino control laws watered down.

The Parliamentary Committee reviewing the draft legislation updating the State’s Casino Control Act has rejected all of Star’s requested changes.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman introduced the proposed new rules to Parliament last month following allegations of money laundering, criminal infiltration and other integrity issues raised in casino inquires in other states.

“This bill will ensure Queenslanders can have confidence in the integrity of our casino laws,” she said at the time.

Star’s submission to Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Safety Committee requested a number of tweaks, which it characterised as drafting changes intended to provide more clarity and procedural fairness.

Star wanted the Government to soften a proposed new duty on casino entities and associates “to do everything necessary to ensure that the management and operation of a casino is conducted fairly and honestly.”

This was too black and white for Star, which “respectfully” suggested inserting the word “reasonably” into the new section, to read, “to do everything reasonably necessary…”

The Committee dismissed Star’s request.

Rather, it accepted department advice that Star’s proposed change “would weaken the obligation, potentially inviting unnecessary debate over what constitutes “reasonable” efforts and would make the provision difficult to enforce”.

In other words, it would create an exploitable legal loophole.

Star also didn’t like the idea that, under the new rules, the responsible state minister could issue “a letter of censure” for bad behaviour without first issuing a show cause notice.

“A censure letter obviously has the capacity to reflect negatively on a casino entity,” The Star said in its submission.

It requested the right to comment on any proposed letter of censure before it was issued, “consistent with natural justice and procedural principles”.

The Committee, which tabled its report on Friday, assured Star that the normal rules of natural justice would apply but didn’t recommend any changes to the draft legislation to accommodate Star’s requested amendments.

“The committee supports the department’s view that the object of the Casino Control Act is to ensure that the State and community as a whole benefit from casino gambling,” it said in summary.

It also accepted the department’s view that “in a circumstance where an act or omission by a casino entity is so serious that it warrants disciplinary action by the Governor in Council, it is necessary, on public interest grounds, for the Governor in Council’s decision to be final and non-reviewable so that the casino entity can be disciplined as quickly as possible and with certainty.”

In short, no loopholes.

The draft legislation now returns to Parliament for debate and a final vote.

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