Inquiry hears $55 million poured through ‘illegal’ credit cards to Qld casinos

The Star inquiry has heard allegations that the company’s Queensland casinos wrongly attributed about $55 million of customers’ China Union Pay credit cards to hotel expenses when it was used for gambling in breach of China’s foreign exchange laws.

Aug 23, 2022, updated Aug 23, 2022
The contentious China Union Pay debit card is believed to have brought more than $55 million to Star casinos in Queensland.

The contentious China Union Pay debit card is believed to have brought more than $55 million to Star casinos in Queensland.

The inquiry before Robert Gotterson, QC, also heard that people banned from casinos in Sydney by order of the NSW police commissioner were not banned from Queensland casinos until 2019.

However, even after the bans were put in place they were not applied retrospectively so that people who had been banned before that date were still allowed to gamble at the company’s Brisbane and Gold Coast casinos.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Jonathan Horton, QC, said it wasn’t until the Queensland regulator, the Office Liquor and Gaming Regulator, prompted the company that it applied the rule retrospectively.

Horton said there was also evidence showing that Star misled its bank, the NAB, about the China Union Pay credit cards despite requests from the bank for specific details.

He said when the NAB questioned the casino operator about the issue, Star made clear that the funds were not used for gambling purposes.

Star told the bank that its high value customers had expenses for travel and entertainment.

“This is an issue which goes to honesty and integrity,” Horton said.

Under the CUP system, about $55 million was used. Horton said this was only about 10 per cent of the level in Sydney, but it was also spread over 1168 occasions.

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He outlined how a customer would be taken to a front office in the casino and their CUP credit card would be swiped and an account opened and funds credited to accommodation services. Once that was processed, the customer was escorted to a gambling cage with the receipt and funds for gambling were made available.

Horton said the inquiry would also be hearing from three witnesses who would give evidence about the impact that gambling had on them.

The inquiry is continuing.



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