Wharton’s decision to leave Star leaves the operator leaderless amidst ongoing anti-money laundering reforms, up to $1 billion in fines, several lawsuits, and a potential tax hike on the horizon. As the person responsible for restoring order and compliance to the struggling casino, his departure has caused substantial concern among regulators. However, Star Entertainment CEO Robbie Cooke remained unfazed, promising the group would soon appoint a new Sydney CEO.
The Star Sydney chief executive will officially resign on 28 April to assume a new position as CEO of salary packaging company Smart Group. His departure came out of the blue for the beleaguered operator, as Wharton stepped away from the struggling operator after only eight months in charge.
The Star Sydney CEO was the primary driving force behind the ongoing remedial measures at the Sydney casino, heading the company’s transformation division. The company struggles to rescue its reputation and remain afloat after last year’s regulatory probe revealed severe AML failings and possible ties to terrorist organizations.
As a stopgap measure, Star Entertainment CEO Robbie Cooke plans to split Wharton’s responsibilities, delegating his remediation duties to current general manager of transformation Nicola Burke. She is well-acquainted with the position’s requirements and will be hard-pressed to navigate the ongoing regulatory challenges.
The board and the management team have an unwavering focus on proving our suitability to hold casino licenses in NSW and Queensland.
Robbie Cooke, Star Entertainment CEO Wharton thanked The Star team for their commitment and hard work, extending special gratitude to the company’s leadership. CEO Cooke remained confident that the group would soon find a new Sydney chief executive and continue its long way toward redemption. However, Wharton’s departure leaves a void during a short but possibly critical period for the operator due to a looming taxation overhaul.
The Star Continues To Struggle With Poor Financials Wharton was one of the people involved in the discussions regarding a potential new tax increase for poker machines which could significantly impact The Star’s bottom line. NSW Premier Chris Minns did not take a firm stance on the matter, preferring to first get a clearer picture of the tax hike’s implications before committing to a specific course of action.
We’ll be having discussions with the Treasury in the coming days as we get a full picture of the revenue side of the budget and future policy measures.
Chris Minns, NSW Premier With trouble looming on all sides, the company finds itself hard-pressed to find a competent replacement for the departing CEO. Financially, The Star Sydney continues to reel from the ongoing turmoil, as rising competition caused FY22 domestic revenue to lag 14% behind pre-COVID levels. The operator hopes that extra funding, like the recent AUD142 million ($96 million) investment from tycoon Bruce Mathieson, would help it stand back on its feet in the coming months.