Posted on: May 16, 2022, 05:39h. 

Last updated on: May 16, 2022, 11:12h.

Star Entertainment’s executive ranks continue to thin out, as New South Wales investigates its business practices. Two board members resigned, adding their names to the list that includes the casino operator’s former CEO.

John O'Neill
Star Entertainment board chairman and acting CEO John O’Neill. His presence at an inquiry into the casino operator’s operations has been delayed. (Image: Asian Gaming Brief)

As Crown Resorts’ world came crumbling down, the company lost a number of high-ranking executives and board members. At that point, the writing was on the wall for the fate of Star Entertainment’s leadership. As New South Wales (NSW) launched its investigation into how egregiously the casino operator mismanaged itself, it was obvious that executive-level changes were coming.

When Matt Bekier stepped down as Star’s CEO, board chairman John O’Neill grabbed the seat. He promised that changes were coming, and he was right. Last week, three executives resigned from the company. Friday, two non-executive members of the board, Sally Pitkin and Gerard Bradley, joined them.

Star Faces Executive Rejig

By the time Crown’s hearings across Australia were complete, virtually none of its former executives or board members remained. Only one of the 11 sitting directors remained when the dust settled. A similar situation could play out with Star.

Pitkin and Bradley are going to leave in the coming months, but at different times, according to a company filing with the Australian Securities Exchange. The filing added that additional changes are coming.

At the same time, a new member of the board is waiting in the wings. Michael Issenberg, the head of Tourism Australia, is waiting to join, provided regulators approve his appointment. Star requested the appointment this past February.

By the time regulators and authorities are done with Star, none of the original board, including O’Neill, may remain. An unidentified source told Inside Asian Gaming last month that Star “made a mistake” appointing him.

Additional Delays in NSW Inquiry

NSW is milking the inquiry for everything it can. A handful of executives – at least a half-dozen – have already acknowledged that there were major missteps in the company’s approach to anti-money-laundering protocols and junket operations, among others.

The state announced in April that it needed more time to complete its inquiry, and that the results would be ready by the end of the summer. However, a new delay arose this morning.

O’Neill was on the schedule to appear for questioning today. However, NSW postponed the hearing until tomorrow, and then changed it again to May 23, according to The New Daily. No one provided an explanation for the delay.

The chairman/acting CEO is the last person on the list of subjects, along with Star director Richard Sheppard, whom NSW wants to grill. Postponing the hearing a day is not a surprise. However, postponing it a week likely means that there’s something going on behind the scenes.

With all of the information NSW already has, it’s likely that the delay won’t substantially change the time line. O’Neill will acknowledge that there have been mistakes, and that the company is implementing procedures, personnel changes, and policies to correct them. After that, the inquiry will likely still end on time.