The South Australian gaming authority has ordered New Zealand-based SkyCity Entertainment to appoint an independent monitor to oversee anti-crime and corruption programs at its Adelaide casino. Through this move, the regulator has moved ahead of the findings of a review of the firm’s casino license.
The development comes after a delay in the South Australian gaming regulator Consumer and Business Services’ investigation into the establishment’s operations. The inquiry follows similar investigations by interstate authorities into the casinos of rival groups Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment over the past two years.
SkyCity Adelaide has been instructed to select a “suitably qualified independent expert as the independent monitor” to examine the casino’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) programs by Liquor and Gambling Commissioner Dini Soulio. The independent expert will also keep an eye on how these programs are being implemented at SkyCity Adelaide, reports Business News Australia.
Soulio noted that he called for an independent monitor to be appointed to SkyCity following ‘careful consideration of issues’ that were uncovered by Australia’s financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC, along with preliminary materials from the Brian Martin KC’s review of license suitability ordered by Consumer and Business Services.
Austrac’s deputy CEO Peter Soros at the time had noted that the investigations into SkyCity had uncovered ‘systemic failures’ by the casino in its approach to AML/CTF obligations.
As reported by Business News Australia, Soulio said: “After evaluating all the material and considering SkyCity Adelaide’s responses to my concerns, I feel it is appropriate for SkyCity Adelaide to demonstrate it is meeting these important regulatory obligations.”
He added: “This is not a matter that I have taken lightly. I believe it’s important that the people of South Australia can have confidence that SkyCity Adelaide, as the licensee of the Adelaide Casino, is operating effectively to minimize gambling harm and ensure compliance with all anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulatory obligations.”
The newly appointed independent monitor will have the authority to ask for changes to SkyCity’s enhancement programs if dissatisfied with them before they get considered and approved by the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner.
SkyCity has agreed to the appointment of the independent monitor and has noted that it will continue to cooperate with Consumer and Business Services. The Liquor and Gambling Commissioner has yet to select a candidate to become the independent monitor but says he will work with SkyCity Adelaide in relation to the selection and appointment process.
Concurrently, the independent investigation into the suitability of SkyCity Adelaide to hold a casino license in South Australia will stay on hold pending the outcome of AUSTRAC’s Federal Court action.