There’s set to be a fresh investigation into Sydney’s controversial lockout laws following the revelation earlier this week that violence at The Star casino is three times worse than has been reported in official statistics since the laws came into affect.
Fairfax Media reports that reports of violence at The Star could have serious implications for the venue’s ability to keep operating under its current licence, and has also led to a new investigation into the lockouts.
The new investigation is being undertaken by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistic and Research, who’s director Dr. Don Weatherburn says it’s important to keep reviewing the lockout laws as drinking habits and other factors change.
“We have to keep taking snapshots as to what’s going on to get a fuller appreciation of the effect of the lockouts,” he says.
The ABC previously reported that documents leaked from the NSW Liquor & Gaming regulator revealed that The Star had failed to report 75 of 111 violent incidents in a period of six months, while 75 per cent of assaults were not included in a monthly report to casino executives, which is also passed on to the New South Wales Government.
Earlier this year, the NSW Government appointed High Court Judge The Hon Ian Callinan QC to review submissions and submit findings from the first lockouts review. Callinan suggested that the 1:30am lockout and 3am stopping of alcohol service could be extended by half an hour for venues with live music as part of a trial measure, and the Government is reviewing the suggestion.
In a report prepared in April based on the statistics available at the time, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR) concluded that the increase in domestic assaults recorded at The Star had increased since the lockouts were introduced, but that “in absolute terms, the increase was fairly small; slightly less than two additional assaults per month”.
The latest revelations appear to have completely undermined the statistics-backed view that the lockout laws have curbed violence at all, and Dr Weatherburn says that based on new leaked documents, “We will have perhaps seriously underestimated the displacement to The Star casino.”
A spokesperson for The Star has said the leaked report misunderstands the way incidents are reported at the venue. The Star therefore, “rejects the report as it contains inaccurate information, a misunderstanding of the incident reporting process at The Star and expresses significantly misplaced concerns that reflect a lack of understanding of The Star’s business.”
Gallery: Keep Sydney Open Rally – October 2016 / Photos: Ashley Mar