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Ex-Crown boss takes reins of under-fire Star casinos

The NSW casino commission's final report into The Star will be handed down on July 31.

The NSW casino commission's final report into The Star will be handed down on July 31. Photo: AAP

The embattled Star Entertainment Group has appointed a former Crown boss as its chief executive as the casino operator attempts to repair its tarnished reputation.

Steve McCann will take the helm at The Star in July, weeks before the casino operator is due to learn if it is deemed suitable to retain its lucrative Sydney licence.

The NSW Independent Casino Commission wrapped up its second probe into the company in May, but its licence remains suspended after a previous inquiry revealed damning evidence of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism failings.

McCann took on the same role at Crown in 2021 after the rival company’s own scandals but left after little more than a year when its takeover by a US private equity giant was completed.

Star chair Anne Ward, who took on her role in April after a boardroom cleanout, said McCann’s job was to turn the operation around.

“His track record reflects his capability to work collaboratively with multiple stakeholders and lead meaningful transformational change and cultural renewal,” she said.

“This experience will be invaluable as we work towards rebuilding trust and expediting the sustainable transformation of The Star.”

The NSW casino commission’s final report into The Star is due on July 31.

The Sydney venue has been allowed to continue operating since 2022 under the oversight of a regulator-appointed manager.

Shares in the company, which also operates casinos in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast, have been in a steady decline since 2021, losing more than 85 per cent of their value by early 2024.

The Star delivered a downbeat quarterly forecast to investors on Monday, when it predicted gaming revenue would be down on the previous year across all of its venues.

The second probe into its Sydney licence heard of ongoing systemic failures at the casino and internal messaging between former executives about going to “war” with the regulator.

Ward conceded in April that The Star remained unfit to hold a licence, but foreshadowed McCann’s appointment by suggesting the management team could be transformed in months.

McCann, a former boss of construction giant Lendlease, acknowledged he was joining The Star at a tricky time.

“I recognise that there are many complex issues and challenges for the company to address,” he said.

“I am committed to working with the board and the various stakeholders to help drive change, restore confidence and achieve a sustainable resolution.”

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