Casinos in turbulence as Crown Resorts moves on restructure and Star Entertainment chair walks

Simone Grogan
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Approximately 1000 jobs are set to be axed from the Blackstone-owned hospitality and gambling operator.
Approximately 1000 jobs are set to be axed from the Blackstone-owned hospitality and gambling operator. Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Crown is readying to lay off up to 1000 workers across Australia and the chair of embattled Star Entertainment has walked, in a day of high drama for the nation’s casinos.

Star’s David Foster said on Monday he had given up the role effective immediately but would remain on the board “for an interim period” and continue his executive responsibilities. He’s to be replaced by non-executive director Anne Ward.

His exit comes as the under-fire casino operator battles to convince a NSW inquiry that it should keep its lucrative Sydney gambling licence. Mr Foster’s sudden departure also comes as the board races to find a new chief executive, following the bombshell exit of Robbie Cooke late last month.

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Star’s former chief financial officer Christina Katsibouba, who left her position the same day as Mr Cooke, told the inquiry she had felt isolated and was asked to keep company finances from the board.

The departure at Star coincided with Crown Resort’s decision to move on a big restructure.

Approximately 1000 jobs are set to be axed from the Blackstone-owned hospitality and gambling operator, which employs more than 20,000 people across Melbourne, Sydney and Perth.

Of that total, about 5000 are employed in WA, which is understood to have been able to keep more staff because of the State’s stronger economy. The large majority will go from Melbourne, where Crown Resorts is headquartered.

Chief executive Ciaran Carruthers said on Monday that it had been a “difficult decision” to cull the workforce.

“The challenges at Crown reflect greatly reduced foreign tourism, a sharp decline in local workers in the city centres, and restrictions on gaming play in Sydney and Melbourne,” Mr Carruthers said.

“We are committed to our regulatory obligations and ongoing transformation, including Crown PlaySafe, Melbourne and Sydney Transformation Plans and ongoing remediation in Perth.

“This was a difficult decision, but we are focused on repositioning the business for long-term success.”

The 1000 job cuts adds to the approximately 275 that were cut from Crown’s Sydney operations in 2023.

Melbourne-based Mr Carruthers was brought in to run Crown from Macau in 2022 after the group was taken over by Blackstone for nearly $9 billion. It’s been reported that the decision to cut jobs came from Crown Resorts, not parent company Blackstone.

The major casino group reported a statutory loss of $199.4 million in October 2023 and flagged a higher expense bill — largely from its new Sydney operation.

Inquiries in NSW, Victoria and WA found Crown facilitated money laundering at its casinos, worked with junket operators linked to organised crime and endangered staff in China.

AUSTRAC subsequently launched civil action against Crown in March 2022, claiming more than 500 breaches of the AML/CTF Act.

Crown has since agreed it failed to appropriately assess the money laundering and terrorism financing risks it faced.

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