Wrest Point lights up in blue for Tassie hospitality and tourism

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Tasmanians lose big as pokies reopen

The iconic Wrest Point Casino tower has been transformed into a beacon of hope amid mass job losses at the site and elsewhere.

The Mercury reports that on Monday, corporate affairs general manager of the Federal Group, which owns and operates Wrest Point, Daniel Hanna, announced the company would stand down 1500 of its 1900 staff in the wake of the Federal Government’s stage on coronavirus restrictions.

At about 7.30pm on Tuesday, the company lit up Tasmania’s tallest building blue as a sign of solidarity for the state’s entire tourism and hospitality industry.

“Yesterday we faced the darkest day in Federal Group’s history,” the company wrote in a message to its current and former workforce.

“Tonight our iconic Wrest Point tower will be lit blue as a beacon of hope and solidarity.

“We do this for our team, for the 38,000 Tasmanian tourism and hospitality workers impacted by yesterday’s shut down and for our community.

“We know the worst may still be ahead of us, but we will keep the lights on until the threat of coronavirus has passed and we all arise more connected, more resilient and more committed than ever before.”

In a media statement, Mr Hanna said Federal would also meet with its bank on Tuesday evening about pausing payments for electronic gaming machine lease arrangements, which would immediately be passed on to its now closed pokies venues.

MONA offered Tasmanian casino licence

Museum of Old and New Art founder and professional gambler David Walsh would be offered a high-roller casino licence under a new Tasmanian Government policy that would prevent the state’s residents from gambling at the proposed luxury venue.

The state’s future gaming policy consultation paper, released late on Tuesday, also shows the state’s north could become home to another non-resident high-roller casino if the Government believes the business case stacks up.

Neither casino would be allowed to operate poker machines.

“In the first instance, the licence for the south will be offered to MONA in line with its 2015 proposal and subject to meeting all necessary probity and financial licence requirements,” the paper states.

Mr Walsh announced plans in 2015 for a 160-room hotel-casino development, which would also include a function centre, restaurant, bar, theatre, some retail outlets, a spa and a bigger library.

Mr Walsh, who has made a fortune out of large-scale horse racing betting, has long opposed poker machines in pubs and clubs, describing them as devices that “use noise to disguise the fact that they are financial Russian roulette.”

“Every outcome feels like a lottery win. But it’s a bullet in disguise,” he wrote ahead of the 2018 state election, adding the worst decision he ever made was to “give up” his studies and “start gambling”.

Under the government’s consultation policy, Mr Walsh will be offered the licence for an up-market venue he proposed for MONA, which will not admit Tasmanians.

In other measures, The Federal Group’s poker machine monopoly would be broken up, to allow pubs and clubs to licence their own electronic machines from 2023 directly, instead of from Federal.

A tender to monitor those venues’ compliance with gaming legislation would be released, but Federal Group would retain the rights to watch and regulate its pokies network.

It would also retain the rights as the state’s keno operator.

The terms, tax rates and licence fees attached to its two casinos in Launceston and Hobart have not yet been determined.

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