Sydney’s Star casino fined $90,000 after 12-year-old girl caught gambling

The Star Casino has been fined $90,000 over three instances involving children gambling and being served alcohol, including a 12-year-old girl whose parents snuck her in to play the pokies.

The girl’s mother evaded security by holding open an exit door as patrons came out, then guided her straight on to the main gaming floor.

Once inside, they met up with the girl’s father and, over 17 minutes, the primary school student placed 21 bets on several poker machines.

As they were leaving the casino they were finally intercepted by security.

The family was visiting from China on tourist visas.

NSW Independent Liquor & Authority Chair, Philip Crawford, said the case sits at the more serious end of the spectrum considering the child’s age, the manner of entry and length of time before she was detected, and the fact the parents initiated the crime.

“It’s quite staggering that the young girl’s parents facilitated her entry in such a deceptive manner, let alone allowed their daughter to gamble,” Mr Crawford said.

Liquor & Gaming NSW Director of Investigations and Intervention, David Byrne, said underage patrons trying to sneak in through the exit doors is a fairly obvious risk.

“However, not only did The Star fail to manage the risk, once the child was on the gaming floor, there were a number of opportunities where staff should have noticed a very young person playing the poker machines – well before they actually did which was when the family was leaving,” Mr Byrne said.

In the second incident, a 16-year-old girl entered through the VIP checkpoint with a middle aged male “platinum” member, without being asked for ID.

When she made her way to the check in at the main gaming area, her fake learner driver’s licence was accepted and she was able to move freely about, including being served a vodka Redbull at the bar, until she attempted to enter the nightclub, at which point the dissimilarity between the ID and her physical appearance was finally picked up.

In the third incident, a 17-year-old boy entered the casino with his own provisional licence and it was not until almost 3.5 hours later he was found and escorted out after security had realised they had let an underage person slip through.

In that time however, the teenager purchased and consumed a vodka Redbull and played 42 rounds of roulette and 22 hands of poker.

“Both children’s forays lasted long enough that they had interacted with several staff members by the time they were discovered,” Mr Byrne said.

“In the 17-year-old boy’s case, CCTV showed a total of 15 staff interactions.

“While it can be difficult to vet a person’s age by assessing whether they look over 25, this only underscores the importance of checkpoint and roving ID verification and consideration as to whether the person presenting matches their documentation.”

The Star self-reported the three incidents that occurred over a four-month period from March to July 2019. In 2019, The Star reported a total of 32 instances of minors gaining access to restricted areas of the casino and in 2018 reported 35 instances.

“We appreciate The Star’s cooperation in coming forward each time they detect a minor, however we do take these cases seriously,” said Mr Crawford.

“The penalty indicates that every breach requires a regulatory response befitting the risk of harm to young people and the community.”

The incidents involving the 16 and 17-year olds resulted in two $15,000 fines and the incident involving the 12-year-old resulted in a $60,000 fine. Previously, the largest fine for minors on premises was $7,000.

Casino disciplinary outcomes are published online on the Liquor & Gaming NSW website.