Star Entertainment Group announced new COVID-19 related operating procedures at its flagship property The Star Sydney. Star made the announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) late on July 24.

The new rules came into force at 00:01 on July 25. They essentially turn Star Sydney into a members club. Star Sydney is giving priority access to its gaming areas to high-value patrons. These gaming areas are now split into several different areas while keeping within capacity restrictions.

“The new restrictions mean that whilst The Star Sydney is required to continue complying with the minimum of 4 square metres per patron, each separate area within the casino will also be subject to a maximum of 300 patrons. In addition, patrons gathering in different areas will not be able to mingle.”

“The Star is implementing operating procedures which comply with the new restrictions. Including the delineation of several separate areas utilising the over 20,000 square metre casino floor area across The Star Sydney.”

“The restrictions meant that The Star Sydney will focus on prioritising visitation bu its highest value patrons. The Star notes that, as previously disclosed, with a visitation capacity of around 900 patrons from 19 to 30 June, 2020, average daily slot and table gaming volumes were comparable with H1 FY2020 private gaming room levels. The Star will also suggest staffing levels to reflect the new operating environment.”

A message on the Star website reads, “access to the casino floor is limited to members of The Star Club.”

Members Only Access to The Star Sydney

It makes perfect sense for The Star Sydney to restrict gaming access to high-value members. These high-value members are fewer in number, which makes it easier to manage social distancing simpler.

These high-value members also spend larger sums of cash at the gaming tables and on pokies. They spend more money away from gambling also.

The move comes less than a month after Star Sydney reopened to a 5,000 patron maximum capacity. A recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in New South Wales is the reason for these new rules. Approximately 100 new case were confirmed in the past week, with 17 coming on July 26. The situation isn’t as bad as in Victoria where July 26 alone saw 532 new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

All 2020 Poker Activity Cancelled

Star dealt another blow to all its members and customers by cancelling all poker activity until further notice. A post on the Star Sydney Facebook page on June 30 said the poker room was remaining closed. It followed that up with an additional post on July 20 stating full closure of the room.

“Star Poker cash games and tournaments have been cancelled until further notice. We apologise for the inconvenience and thank everyone for understanding.”

It is a major blow to the casino’s poker room members, especially as the WSOP Sydney is now in doubt. Star Sydney hosted the WSOP Circuit Sydney festival in November 2019 and it was a massive success. It paid out more than $6 million and WSOP planned a November 2020 return.

Aussie poker new site Poker Media reported the hugely popular WSOP Sydney is no more. The festival is “effectively on hold indefinitely until the necessary easing of restrictions presents options.”

Members of the poker community hope the WSOP Sydney festival can run in November because they’ve already lost the Australian Poker Tour (APT) event on the Gold Coast. APT pulled the plug on the three-day series due to start in September.

The APT pointed the finger of blame directly at the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“APT apologies to all our players and affiliates who were planning to travel from near and far. These are very difficult times navigating through the pandemic.”