Star Entertainment a sitting duck as it sinks into governance void

To be fair, the writing of O’Neill’s departure was already on the wall – as it is for all Star directors who have represented the company during the period under the regulator’s inquiry.

Most of the senior management including the former chief executive, Matt Bekier, have already bailed voluntarily in recognition that their positions are untenable and that they won’t survive the inevitable purge needed for the Star to hold on to its casino licence.

There will be more executives leaving before the end of this process.

Meanwhile, most of the board members have announced their intention to resign. That’s appropriate enough, but their exit was supposed to be part of an orderly process designed to maintain some continuity of governance.

There was an assumption that O’Neill, no matter how complicit he was in Star’s failures, would have provided sufficient notice to help with a plan to rectify the company’s failings.

Clearly, O’Neill will not be part of Star’s reformation process.

There was an expectation that O’Neill would follow the example of the former chair of Crown Resorts, Helen Coonan.

It was noteworthy that during the NSW regulatory inquiry Coonan escaped any major brand damage and was used as a channel through which the NSW’s Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) could negotiate reforms of Crown.

Clearly, O’Neill will not be part of Star’s reformation process. This will now fall to the new interim chairman, Ben Heap, one of only two directors who did not indicate plans to resign from the board.

Star executive Geoff Hogg was only a few weeks ago elevated to chief casino officer, has now been elevated again to interim chief executive officer.

With the chief financial officer and the former chief casino officer both having resigned recently; almost all senior executives and the chair are operating on an interim basis.

The Star is in desperate need to find fresh blood for the board and executive positions, but all candidates would need to have regulatory approvals – something that generally takes months.

Right now, it’s a sitting duck.

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