Hard Rock Targets Star Entertainment

Article by Simon Day
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Last Updated: Jun 4th, 2024 Share On Your Network:

It’s been a difficult 12 months for Star Entertainment Group. A regulatory inquest and huge fines have cast doubt on the group’s flagship Sydney casino, affecting its share price and public confidence in Australia’s leading gambling institution

But good news could be on the horizon. Reports from the United States suggest that a consortium that hosts a local partner of Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos is considering a bid for Star Entertainment. This has led to a surge in Star’s share price and much speculation. 

The potential deal 

Star has a market share of AU $1.29 billion. The news of potential interest from the US consortium boosted its share price by 20%. By Monday’s close of play, the share price was up to AU $0.54, making it the top gainer on the Australian exchange. 

Interestingly, Hard Rock was quick to deny any knowledge of the prospective takeover, with a representative stating that the company “is not involved, nor has it authorised, any discussions, activities or negotiations on its behalf in connection with a proposed bid for Star.” 

On the other hand, Star announced earlier on Monday that it had been subject to “inbound interest from several external parties” without mentioning Hard Rock by name. 

It’s rumoured that the potential deal would encourage Star to move away from its dependence on casino income. The diversification strategy would see Star Entertainment look to maximise its takings from hotel, restaurant, and entertainment operations. 

There’s a long way to go before any consortium deal is reached, but it could be the lifeline Star Entertainment needs after a difficult 24 months. 

Star’s controversies

The Queensland government ordered Star Entertainment to pay a $100 million fine in 2022. The regulator found Star “unfit” to hold its three casino licenses in New South Wales and Queensland. 

The fine followed an investigation into Star’s alleged “criminal activity,” which included money laundering accusations, involvement with organised crime, and the promotion of irresponsible and problem gambling. 

The charges and fines led to over 500 employees leaving their processes within the organisation and widespread operational changes. These were integral, as Star was at risk of losing its license after the controversy, which was widely covered in the Australian media.

While the Australian giant has a long road ahead, Star appears to have its house in order, retaining its license and satisfying many of the requirements laid out in the report.  

A takeover from US giant Hard Rock could be just the tonic. But what can we expect from a new-look Star under Hard Rock’s brand?   

Who is Hard Rock International? 

Hard Rock International has 248 venues in 76 countries. The chain includes hotels, restaurants, live concert halls, and casinos. Known primarily for the Hard Rock cafés in many of the world’s most populous cities, Hard Rock eateries are decorated with memorabilia from legendary musicians, ranging from Michael Jackson to Jimi Hendrix. 

There are currently two Hard Rock venues in Australia – one in Darling Harbour and one on the Sunshine Coast. 

It’s unclear whether a Hard Rock takeover of Star Entertainment would change the branding of iconic establishments like the Star Sydney. However, if the proposed takeover goes ahead, music-themed eateries and entertainment venues could likely be a big part of the consortium’s plans. 

Hard Rock’s grand plans in the home of gambling 

Hard Rock International might be poised to make significant strides into the Australian gambling market. Still, they’re also taking a massive leap in the home of US gambling with their current Las Vegas project. 

The Mirage Hotel, one of Sin City’s best-known venues, will soon become the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas. The new hotel and entertainment venue will open in 2027 after three years of renovation work that will spread the Hard Rock name across the Las Vegas strip. 

The last day of hotel occupancy at the Mirage will be July 14, 2024. Following this date, the hotel will be officially closed, and remodelling will begin. The hotel will be developed into a new resort featuring a 700-foot guitar-shaped hotel that will bring something new to the Las Vegas skyline. 

Keep up with the latest news on gambling in Australia and beyond by following our blog and newsroom

If you’re planning a trip to Australia and want to visit the Star Sydney or any of the country’s other impressive real-money gambling venues, you can also read up on the best land-based gambling venues.

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