Star Sydney boss quits less than a year into role

The chief executive of Sydney’s Star casino has resigned months into his role as the embattled gaming operator reforms in the wake of damning regulatory action.

Former Commonwealth Bank executive Scott Wharton will depart at the end of April after accepting a lucrative new role at employee management services provider Smartgroup.

Star Entertainment Group was well positioned to announce shortly Mr Wharton’s successor, group chief executive Robbie Cooke said in a statement to the stock exchange.

“I want to thank Scott for his valuable contribution, particularly in respect of our remediation actions. We are committed to winning back trust and confidence from the community and the work Scott has led since his appointment last July has laid incredibly important foundations.”

Also on Monday, Smartgroup revealed Mr Wharton would be their chief executive officer from July.

Smartgroup chairman Michael Carapiet said the company would benefit from Mr Wharton’s background in transformational roles within the financial services sector.

“Scott will bring a strong track record of driving performance and change to lead Smartgroup and realise the significant growth potential in our business,” he said.

Mr Wharton said he was excited to lead the company and to build on its success.

He was appointed last July as the Sydney casino’s chief and Star Entertainment’s group head of transformation after leading bank-wide transformation efforts, including CBA’s response to the banking regulator’s 2018 inquiry report into governance, culture and accountability.

NSW’s gaming regulator suspended Star’s Sydney licence in October and slapped a record $100 million fine on the company after an inquiry found the online casino real money no deposit had allowed money laundering to take place inside private rooms and identified numerous compliance failures.

A similar review in Queensland also fined Star $100 million and found it unfit to hold the two casino licences in the state after the company neglected anti-money laundering and responsible gaming duties in the state.

Shareholders have separately launched a class action against the group over its failure to disclose money laundering links to organised crime.

Shares in the casino group opened a cent higher than Friday’s closing price of $1.43.That’s less than half of their value the same time last year.

The NSW Independent Casino Commission has appointed a manager for the Pyrmont casino until January 2024.

Mr Wharton thanked Mr Cooke, the board and staff for their assistance and said it had been “hugely rewarding to contribute alongside so many committed, hard-working leaders and team members”.

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