Mon, Sep 11, 9:56am by Staff Writer
The first legally licensed casino in Australia – the Wrest Point Hotel Casino in Hobart, Tasmania – has been granted official protections as a heritage site.
According to a report published by ABC.net.au, the Tasmanian Heritage Council added the iconic tourist attraction to its Heritage Register in late August.
The casino’s centerpiece is a 17-storey octagonal tower standing at 64 metres high – making it Hobart’s tallest building – which was designed by Sir Roy Grounds. Construction was completed in 1973, and the wider complex was designed to incorporate the existing Riviera Hotel which opened in 1939.
Brett Torossi, who serves as chair for the Tasmanian Heritage Council, issued a statement celebrating Wrest Point Hotel Casino’s addition to the Heritage Register:
“The inclusion of Wrest Point Hotel Casino on the Heritage Register gives important recognition to the significant role this place has played in the development of Tasmania’s tourism and hospitality industry.
Together, the Riviera Hotel and Wrest Point help to tell the story of how tourism and hospitality have evolved in Tasmania.”
Dominic Baker, general manager of the casino, framed the heritage status as an incentive for visitors to explore Wrest Point Hotel Casino and other Tasmanian attractions:
“It’s great to have the Wrest Point complex recognised under the heritage code as something that’s iconic to Tasmanian tourism.
From a Tasmanian tourism perspective, it shows the longevity that this operation has had over many years.
It’s something that we can actually tell prospective visitors to Tasmania and to this site that underpins the importance that it plays and has played over many years to the Tasmanian economy.”
The building’s owner, Federal Group, announced an ambitious $100 million renovation proposal in December of 2015.
At the time, Federal Group’s chief executive officer and managing director Greg Farrell, stated that Wrest Point Hotel Casino could eventually be transformed into a luxury destination on par with Australia’s major casino resorts:
“The redevelopment will establish Wrest Point as Australia’s greatest boutique entertainment destination; returning the focus to our prime waterfront location, with dedicated performance spaces, high quality dining outlets that champion Tasmanian produce, and recreate the excitement of casino gaming.”
Baker confirmed that the overhaul was still underway, while making clear that Federal Group has no plans to alter Wrest Point Hotel Casino’s famous tower or other exterior elements:
“It is a very recognisable building, not just in Tasmania but in Australian tourism history.
We’re working through the inside of the property with a plan to have a kind of … facelift delivered over the next 18 months to two years.”
The official Heritage Register entry includes a section detailing Federal Group’s 44-year history as owner of Wrest Point Hotel Casino:
“Wrest Point’s connection to its parent company is also noted in the entry, as the Federal Group is recognised as being one of the world’s oldest hotel groups.
This entry has been progressed in consultation with representatives of the property’s owners, the Federal Group and was also subject to a formal public consultation process.”
The casino component of Wrest Point consists of 25 table games, nearly 750 pokie machines and electronic gaming terminals, a full-scale poker room, keno, and TOTE.
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