Queensland Government Accepting Proposals For Second Casino Resort
The state of Queensland is now accepting proposals for an integrated casino resort that will be developed on the Gold Coast. If the plan pushes through, the city will have two casinos. Currently, Queensland has only the Star Casino at Broadbeach which is operated by the Star Entertainment Group.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones offered more information on plans concerning the second casino during an interview with ABC Radio. She said an expression-of-interest process is set to begin and operators are encouraged to submit proposals which must include increased infrastructure such as new entertainment facilities, a concert venue, dining and retail centers and a convention space.
Potential casino operators must be willing to invest a minimum of $1 billion to bid for the license. It will be up to the bidders to propose a location for their new integrated resort and the final decision will be made by the government. A Gold Coast Tourism Advisory Panel will also be established to offer advice on the massive project.
Location Is A Big Question!
It’s difficult to tell where the second casino will be built as the Queensland government already ruled out potential Gold Coast locations like the Wave Break Island in the Southport Broadwater, as well as The Southport Spit, which is a huge park north of Surfers Paradise. In 2017, the Queensland government turned down a proposal by Chinese consortium ASF for a $3 billion casino development for those sites.
ASF were keen on using The Spit as their location and they put forward an impressive proposal which included entertainment venues, hotels, theatres and residential apartments, all within a five-storey development. However, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk rejected it and said the proposal went beyond the council’s three-story limit, saying height restrictions needed to be maintained and the area preserved.
Despite presenting the prospect of creating 13,000 jobs and generating over $700 million into the local economy, the Queensland government shot down the project. The idea of a second casino resort also caused a number of environmental and community groups to oppose the proposed saying it could have potential impacts on local clubs, residents, wildlife and the environment.
So the location for this newly proposed integrated casino resort will be interesting as it is highly unlikely that the Queensland government will change its stance on the Spit.
Anti-Gambling Groups Up In Arms Against Second Casino
Queensland has the reputation of being second worst state in Australia for gambling losses. So when the government is moving forward with the idea of developing a second casino resort, anti-gambling groups have once again raised their concerns.
Stephen Mayne who is part of The Alliance for Gambling Reform said if the plan pushes through, Queensland could soon become like Nevada and problem gambling numbers will skyrocket.
Mayne highlighted the number of pokie machines already in operating in the state and asked whether the government will permit the new casino to run more pokie machines. That could be a major problem for Queenslanders given the $300 million being lost every year at Gold Coast clubs which operate these machines.
While the state government touts the creation of more jobs and a boost to the local economy, anti-gambling groups are against the second casino as they believe it will do more harm than good for the local communities.
Saturated Gaming Machine Market
As the expression of interest process begins, Minister Jones said all casino operators are free to submit their proposals, including the Star Entertainment Group which currently operates its own casino at Broadbeach. Jones said the government will require the operator to deliver infrastructure under a contractual agreement.
Star Entertainment Group does not have any plans to apply for a second casino license. The gambling operator is concerned that a second casino will saturate the market and make it difficult for them. Star is committed to investing $2 billion to expand its facilities at its Broadbeach casino resort. However, the expansion plans will not include any gambling expansion and will only focus on non-gaming activities which include building four new towers.
Call for Clarity
Meanwhile, the government has been hit with criticism from State Opposition Tourism Spokesman David Crisafulli for not being firm enough on its plans for the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is in need of a makeover and the government believes a second casino resort with a $1 billion investment will provide the Gold Coast a costly makeover.
However, Crisafulli is not convinced as the state government keeps changing its plans and wasting time. He wants the government to provide more clarity on its plans for the Gold Coast at the earliest.