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Government liquor reforms benefit The Star

Since the City of Sydney introduced strict ‘lockout’ laws in February that prevented patrons from entering clubs and pubs after 1.30am, the Star casino, which is subject to different licensing laws, has been seeing an influx of revellers in the early morning hours.

The Star

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Star Casino has become a popular late-night destination for those out on the town who are not quite done when the deadline rolls around. The law is intended to curb alcohol-related violence by prohibiting entry to premises after 1.30am and the sale of drinks at bars after 3am. The zone covers the CBD and Kings Cross, ending at Darling Harbour, which makes the Star exempt.

According to the Police Association of NSW president, Scott Weber, who spoke to the Herald, more and more patrons are migrating to areas outside the lockout zone such as Newtown and Pyrmont, attracted by late-night venues that include the Star. He said that having an epicenter for alcohol can lead to violence and was ‘a recipe for disaster’.

So who are these patrons lining up to visit the Star in the early morning hours? The Herald spoke to some, including a group of 18-year-old girls who were heading there because they knew of nowhere else to go. One said they weren’t planning to gamble and were reportedly relieved when informed that there was a nightclub inside the casino.

Casino employees that spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity said that the casino was definitely busier in the early morning hours since the lockout was introduced. One employee said, “As opposed to people coming in around 10pm, 11pm, you see a lot of people coming in at 1am, 2am. And people still coming in at 3am, 4am even as we’re trying to close.”

According to the Herald, the Star has denied that it has benefitted from the lockouts, saying attendance is still much the same as it was before the law. A spokesman for the casino went as far as to say that a head count of patrons on Friday and Saturday nights had fallen slightly. The casino, however, would not provide figures or confirm whether the head counts were made on a Saturday or Sunday morning. However, the Herald reported that the Star’s revenue had increased significantly from January to June, which the company attributed to marketing efforts. Whether the number of gamblers has risen proportionally, or if these new patrons were only drinking and dancing, is also unknown.

The success of the lockout strategy in curbing alcohol-related violence has yet to be determined, but the measure was drafted in the wake of two deaths from so-called ‘one-punch hits’ – a single unprovoked punch to the head by a stranger. Casinos are generally renowned for their security where surveillance cameras and hefty security guards are the order of the day, so it is unlikely that such incidents would occur there. 

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