On October 17, Robert Cooke, The Star Entertainment Group’s new CEO and managing director is getting his hands on fixing the mess the troubled casino operator has been in for the past year.
Robert Cooke Takes Over his CEO and MD Role at Star Entertainment
Hogg stepping down came as part of a series of resignations of senior Star Entertainment executives meant to show that the group is committed to making the necessary reforms in order to keep its casino licenses in Queensland and New South Wales.
Cooke’s appointment had to first undergo an approval procedure from the regulatory authorities in Queensland and New South Wales.
Cooke is starting the job on October 17 after the group announced he received the approval in Queensland. However, the approval from New South Wales is still pending so executive chairman Ben Heap will be responsible for some of the decisions in New South Wales until the approval procedure is finalized.
As the new CEO, Cooke has made a commitment to revamp Star Entertainment completely and bring it back to regulatory compliance. Cooke has also acknowledged that this process will take a long time and span over at least a few years but he has also said that he is ready for that challenge.
Cooke Brings Extensive CEO Experience to His New Role
Robert Cooke has years of experience as a managing director within regulated industries such as gambling and banking.
Cooke joins Star Entertainment from the fintech company Tyro Payments where he was managing director and CEO since 2018. In 2019, Cooke successfully led Tyro Payments into becoming a publicly listed company.
Another major achievement in his professional career was during his five years at the gambling company Tatts Group where he led and oversaw the structural changes during the company’s merger with Tabcorp.
Additionally, in 2006, Cooke successfully drove Wotif.com to an ASX listing and he was also responsible for a few acquisitions during the seven years he spent as a managing director of the travel and accommodation booking website.
The Star Entertainment Troubles Started in September 2021
It all started after the Bergin inquiry into The Crown Sydney sparked the Adam Bell SC Review of The Star Sydney in September 2021.
The review itself and the following inquiry into the casino operations by Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) uncovered major discrepancies in view of money laundering controls and other breaches of regulatory requirements.
As a result, The Star Sydney was deemed unfit to keep its gambling license in New South Wales. Something similar happened in Queensland with the Gotterson inquiry, which resulted in Star Entertainment being deemed unfit to hold its licenses for its casinos in Brisbane and Gold Coast.