Star Sydney Fires and Bans Gaming Manager

The negativity surrounding Australian casinos continues after Star Sydney sacked and banned a prominent gaming manager with gambling problems

Star Entertainment sacked and banned a gaming manager suffering from a gambling addiction. Minh Nguyen worked as a gaming manager from early 2020 to late 2021. She repeatedly borrowed money from Star employees, up to $7,000, and rarely repaid them. Nguyen used the borrowed money to fund her gambling addiction.

Star employed Nguyen as a Casino Special Employee, supervising gaming tables and security. Her prominent gaming manager role meant employees were reluctant to say no to Nguyen’s requests to borrow money from them.

Nguyen cut short an employee’s shift and offered him a ride home. She discussed her family problems with the employee and asked for $1,000 before driving him to an ATM. The employee spent months asking for the money before she eventually repaid him.

This was not an isolated incident. Nguyen borrowed $3,000 from another employee and promised to repay the debt within two months. However, she only repaid $1,000 over five months before stopping answering his calls.

Gaming Manager Abused Her Position

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) learned Nguyen’s dodgy dealings and stepped in. An ILGA tribunal heard Nguyen did not abuse her position to extract loans. However, the ILGA did not agree.

ILGA chief Philip Crawford pulled no punches when talking about the gaming manager indiscretions.

“The repeated nature of the contraventions indicates a lack of honesty and considerable lack of diligence or ability with respect to regulatory compliance. The Authority revoked Ms. Nguyen’s license to prevent her and others from further gambling-related harms.”

The gaming manager held a role requiring a high standard of integrity. A casino special employee is licensed to supervise gaming tables, equipment, and security in addition to hold management positions.

“The license requires a high level of integrity, honest conduct, and adherence to the Casino Control Act.” ILGA stated Nguyen clearly failed to meet those high standards.

Star Entertainment Under Scrutiny

Star Entertainment could do without this negative press as it is under scrutiny from regulators. Local media reported a lack of anti-money laundering controls, prompting an ILGA investigation.

Mende Rajkoski is an Australian of Macedonia descent in addition to being a known criminal. Police arrested Rajkoski and two accomplices after an 18-month investigation. The law enforcement agencies found three tonnes of cocaine worth $969 million after the arrests.

Star Sydney allowed Rajkowski to a huge sum of money through the casino. He gambled $106 million across Star Sydney’s machines in one week. Nobody from Star approached Rajkowski despite the astronomical sums of money gambled.

Furthermore, Star Entertainment’s VIP manager Mark Walker held a long-standing relationship with fugitive Michael Gu. iProsperity, Gu’s property empire, collapsed in 2020 owing investors $340 million. Gu often gambled for super high stakes during his Star Sydney trips.

Ongoing ILGA Investigation

The ILGA is investigating claims of lax anti-money laundering practises at Star Sydney. March 2022 is when the reports finding enter the public domain.

Star stands accused of several breaches of its casino license. The Bergin Inquiry into Crown brought to light dodgy Star dealings. It heard about Star using junkets to attract well-heeled Chinese VIPs to its properties. In addition, its banking methods for allowing deposits and withdrawals caused several raised eyebrows.

Australian casinos have not shown themselves in the best light over the past couple of years. A royal commission into Crown Melbourne deemed the casino giant unsuitable to hold a Victorian gaming license. However, a raft of management changes and newly implemented procedures resulted in Crown continuing to operate in Melbourne.

Crown is unable to operate the casino at its lavish Sydney property. A separate inquiry called Crown unsuitable to hold a gaming license at Barangaroo.

The Star Sydney gaming manager scandal does nothing to improve the tarnished images of Aussie live casinos.