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Casino Operator Star Faces Culture Crisis

Casino Operator Star Faces Culture Crisis

by Starling Insights

Starling Insights Editorial Board

May 02, 2024


Earlier this year, the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission (NICC) launched a second inquiry into whether Star Entertainment Group is fit to hold a casino license in the Australian state. In recent comments to the inquiry, culture change expert Dr. Attracta Lagan said the casino operator's culture was characterized by "low accountability" and “fear.”

As reported by IAG, Lagan, who has worked with both Star and its competitor Crown Resorts, said that Star's culture efforts were comparatively very weak. "Star never listened," Lagan recounted. “[CEO] Robbie Cooke was too busy raising funds. There was no feedback loop. They spent a fortune on consultants but never built an organization from within and never hired someone [as an internal position] to help manage any cultural change.”

While Cooke worked hard to save Star from its dire financial situation, Lagan said, the focus on raising capital detracted from its culture transformation program. Rather than building a culture of accountability and openness, Star's leadership created an "us vs. them" mentality against the regulators.

Star and Crown have both faced substantial scrutiny for anti-money laundering (AML) failures in recent years. While Crown has seemed to take the necessary steps to ensure its culture supports good AML outcomes, and was recently found suitable to hold a casino license as a result, Star has floundered. " Nothing would be shared voluntarily, I would always have to follow up," Lagan said. "There was so much power in the hands of the CEO and he wasn't communicating."

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