Struggle to find casino commission staff

·3-min read

The man who will lead the new casino watchdog in NSW has detailed how hard his job could be, as the responsible minister says he won't rush the public release of a highly anticipated report into Star's Sydney casino.

Three problems pose issues for staff procurement at the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC), the soon-to-be-chief commissioner Philip Crawford told a budget estimates hearing on Friday.

Experts and advisors will have to be paid a lowly government-dictated wage while still having the required expertise and capability, and they also need to not have any conflict of interest.

It's made it difficult for the commission to find enough expert accountants and lawyers.

"In the casino space it's been quite a challenge ... Because the casinos are very large companies and they have lots of advisors," Mr Crawford said.

"It'd be fair to say all of the four major accounting firms are doing either audit or some other type of work for at least one, if not both of the casinos, so they're not available to us," Mr Crawford said.

The commission is set to begin its work on Monday.

Kevin Anderson, the minister responsible for gaming inside his hospitality and racing portfolio, announced on Tuesday five commissioners would transition from the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to the NICC.

"Its most pressing task will be considering the findings of Adam Bell SC's Star review and continuing the supervision and ongoing suitability assessment of Crown Sydney," Mr Anderson said.

He told the estimates hearing on Friday he won't rush Mr Crawford to brief him about the report into alleged questionable practices at The Star casino in Sydney.

The report from the months-long review into Star's fitness to hold a casino licence was handed to the ILGA this week.

Mr Anderson has not yet received a copy, but Mr Crawford has.

"He'll do his due diligence and then it will come to me," Mr Anderson said.

"I haven't asked Mr Crawford how long his process will take, I don't want to rush him."

The decision to make the report public was Mr Crawford's, the minister said.

Mr Crawford said commissioners would meet next week to discuss the report and planned to brief the minister on Thursday or Friday.

"Those arrangements are currently being made as we speak," Mr Crawford told the estimates hearing.

"Our plan would be to put (the report) up on our website fairly shortly after the ministerial briefing," he said.

While the new commissioners are all ex-ILGA staff, Mr Anderson said the commission will eventually be a stand-alone, independent body.

A transitional arrangement in the legislation allowed the minister to appoint existing members of the ILGA to the new commission, but future appointments will be decided by a panel presenting a list of candidates to the minister.

Mr Anderson took on notice a question about whether he was satisfied all conflicts of interest had been appropriately declared by transitioning members.

"The checks would have already been in place and they would have already been cleared at the highest level for them to come across," he said.

Labor MP Mick Veitch wanted to know if probity checks had been repeated for ILGA staff transferring to the new commission.