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Farrell family’s Tasmania poker machine profits soar

Mon, Nov 26, 11:28am by Staff Writer

The family with a strong hold on poker machine licensing in Tasmania has nearly doubled its profits over the past year.

Financial statements lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show that the Farrell family, trading under the company name of Mulawa Holdings, made A$24.4 million in the year to the end of June – up from A$13.9 million the previous year.

The company generated A$543 million revenue and paid nearly A$75 million in gaming taxes and license fees, according to ABC news.

The family owns a range of hospitality and gaming venues in Tasmania through its ownership of the Federal Group.

These include the Wrest Point Casino and Henry Jones hotel in Hobart, Launceston’s Country Club Casino and the luxury east coast hotel Saffire.

Mulawa Holdings employs 2,527 people and has assets worth A$452 million, paying an income tax bill of A$5.2 million.

Casino employees seeking pay rise

Hundreds of workers at the states two casinos are waging a campaign for a pay increase after rejecting the company’s offer of a two per cent a year increase over three years.

Employees at Wrest Point Casino and Launceston Country Club voted down the proposed increase in January, arguing it would not keep pace with cost of living expenses.

The casinos operators the Federal Group have said staff at its casinos, “are already paid well above union standards.”

Their union, United Voice, said it was also resisting the push by Federal Group to remove some redundancy provisions and reduce casino roster cycles from four week to two.

“Stripping back the roster cycle to two weeks means people can’t plan what they’ll be doing for the next 14 days,” United Voice’s Jessica Sanders said in a letter to members.

The lynchpin of the Farrell family’s profitability in recent times has been its exclusive rights to operate gaming machines in Tasmania.

This arrangement is set to expire in 2023, with financial statements offering little insight into the company’s direction after this time.

The statements say: “Further information about likely developments in the operators of the consolidated entity … has not been included in this report because disclosure of the information would be likely to result in unreasonable prejudice to the consolidated entity.”

Federal Group dismissed Labor’s plans

The Federal Group was front and centre during the Tasmanian state election campaign, dismissing Labor’s pledge to remove all poker machines from Tasmanian clubs and pubs from 2023 if it won.

The Liberal Party was returned in Tasmania, with Premier Will Hodgman denying undue influence from the gambling lobby.

Under Tasmanian law, any Federal Group donations made during that election have to be disclosed by February.

The Federal Group arrived in Tasmania in 1968 when the state was struggling with debt.

Greg Farrell Sr, the chairman of the Federal Group ran a public campaign to reassure locals that a casino in Tasmania would be more than a hotel and gaming den and would put Tasmania on the map.

Wrest Point Hotel Casino was opened on 10 February 1973 and was Australia’s first legal casino.

The building was extended in 1984 to include a new conference centre and in 1996 a boardwalk was created.

In 2015, an A$70 million dollar investment was announced bringing in five new dining outlets, more bars, a private VIP gaming room and a refurbishment to the entire casino.

Wrest Point has more than 650 poker machines and 269 hotel rooms.

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