Casino risk officer concedes Star fraud threat remains

Sydney's The Star casino remains at risk of being defrauded, its head of risk says, after an inquiry was told guests reaped more than $3 million in a gaming machine glitch.

An inquiry led by Adam Bell SC is looking at whether Star Entertainment Group is suitable to regain its casino licence after it was suspended following revelations of illegal gang-linked junkets in gaming rooms and Chinese debit-card transactions disguised as hotel expenses.

Star customers were able to claim an extra $3.2 million they had not won from the casino through its "ticket in, cash out" (TICO) system, the inquiry was told on Monday.

A glitch caused the TICO machines to erroneously return guests' cash-exchange tickets if they inserted two at the same time, allowing them to claim tickets more than once. 

The error was not rectified for six weeks.

Star Sydney's head of risk Eileen Vuong fronted the inquiry on Thursday and was asked about the incident and Star's response.

"Even though we had controls, it wasn't clear where some of the ownership of the controls lay and so when these machines started presenting that fault, it wasn't escalated as urgently or as appropriately as it could have been," she said.

Ms Vuong said the company's risk framework to prevent similar issues from occurring again was still evolving and continuing to be implemented.

A flurry of exits by Star executives and vacant leadership roles since Ms Vuong started in her role in May 2023 had left the old structure unstable.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Caspar Conde asked the head of risk if she still had concerns about current controls to prevent instances of large amounts of money going out the door undetected.

"Yes," she responded.

"The intensity of the change that the organisation is going through - we're implementing a lot of controls. 

"There's a lot that is happening across the organisation. 

"Like any organisation that goes through a lot of change, I think there is always risk that controls or processes will need to smooth out over time."

The Star's appointed special manager Nick Weeks said the incident identified a "deep cultural problem in parts of the casino", with some workers lacking the desire to question or correct mistakes.

Former Star executives have told the inquiry disillusionment with leadership led them to resign. 

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