Tue, Aug 1, 8:07am by Staff Writer
Adelaide Casino will proceed with plans for a $330 million expansion, aimed at courting high-rollers, after receiving final approval from the South Australia (SA) state government.
In a statement issued on July 26 by the Independent Gaming Authority (IGA), the venue’s operator SkyCity Entertainment Group was given the go-ahead for several changes designed to enhance the facilities for free-spending gamblers.
Among the upgraded amenities are a luxury hotel tower with 123 guest rooms, newly constructed VIP gaming areas, and several high-end restaurants and bars.
Graeme Stephens, who serves as chief executive officer for SkyCity, released a statement on the same day to confirm the approval:
“I’m delighted SkyCity will play a major role in what will be an amazing rejuvenation of the Riverbank Precinct, while also creating jobs and economic growth for South Australia.
The redevelopment also secures SkyCity’s position in the heart of Adelaide’s entertainment precinct.”
The expansion of Adelaide Casino will be folded into a wider upgrade of the city’s Riverbank Precinct, one which comes at an estimated $1 billion cost.
But as Luke Walker – general manager of Adelaide Casino – said in his own statement, those costs can be viewed as an ongoing investment in the local economy.
Beginning when work commences early next year, Walker revealed that nearly 2,000 employment positions would immediately be created – nearly half of which would be permanent positions within the casino:
“I’m delighted Adelaide Casino will be joining the redevelopment of the Festival Plaza, which alongside the Adelaide Oval, the new Convention Centre, the upgraded Festival Centre, and the rest of the Riverbank Precinct will create a stunning entertainment space in the heart of the city.
This development will transform Adelaide Casino into a truly integrated entertainment precinct for international, interstate and local visitors, as well as creating 800 jobs when complete and up to 1000 jobs during construction.”
SA Premier Jay Weatherill also offered public comment supporting Adelaide Casino’s increased prominence within the city’s central economic engine.
“This redevelopment, and the wider development across the Riverbank Precinct, is a welcome investment in the state.
We look forward to offering both locals and tourists the opportunity to enjoy a world-class entertainment precinct.”
Along with approval for the general construction plans, the IGA also permitted SkyCity to make crucial changes to its operational procedures regarding the coveted high-roller market.
Currently, gamblers must place $12,000 in annual wagers to be classified as a “premium customer,” but that figure will be lowered to $8,000 per year. Additionally, the venue can now offer up to four guest passes to premium customers rather than just one.
The IGA directly addressed the relaxation of high-roller regulations, stating that the moves were designed to free Adelaide Casino to compete domestically and internationally:
“A majority of these initiatives have been designed to attract more interstate and overseas tourists to South Australia and for the Adelaide Casino to better compete with casinos interstate and overseas.
The Government has been very clear with the Adelaide Casino that they must have systems in place to identify and prevent problem gamblers from accessing premium gaming areas.”
Anti-gambling parliamentary powerbroker Senator Nick Xenophon has accused the SA government of creating a “misery magnet for gambling addicts” in exchange for increased tax revenue.
Xenophon’s comments prompted Minister of Infrastructure Stephen Mullighan to defend the reforms while speaking with ABC.net.au:
“What has changed is giving them greater access to the number of people who can come in and access those premium gaming areas.
So it’s more about being able to attract more people into the facility rather than what level of tax they’ll be paying to the Government.”
The Adelaide Casino expansion project is expected to be completed by late 2020.
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