Star Entertainment unveils plan to derail Gold Coast’s second casino

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
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Star Entertainment Group has unveiled a multibillion-dollar ‘master plan’ to develop assets on the Gold Coast.

The proposed development in turn serves as a bid to convince the Queensland government to abandon their plans for a second casino in the city.

The Group’s pitch comes as the casino giant awaits a decision from an independent panel on their proposed 237-metre tower at its casino complex in Sydney’s Pyrmont. The development has originally been opposed by the NSW planning department.

As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, the three-pronged Gold Coast proposal was outlined at the group’s annual general meeting in Brisbane on Thursday, that involves a $100 million revamp of the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre which is built on state-owned land but would be operated by Star.

The development comes with the proviso that Star would be able to enter an exclusive arrangement with the Queensland government, in which earlier this year, registrations of interest were requested for developing a global tourism hub and a second casino on the Gold Coast.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate is against the exclusivity of The Star operating the Convention and Exhibition Centre. “We on the Gold Coast do not believe in monopoly. I know Star would want exclusivity for 20 years and that would lock us in as the only shop in town.

Star Entertainment chairman John O’Neill told the meeting that the group was also contractually committed to completing its $2 billion Broadbeach Island master plan, which includes an additional five towers on top of the existing The Star Grand and The Darling.

The Star Group also plan to undertake a major revamp of its Sheraton Grand Mirage resort, which is located on the Gold Coast’s Southport Spit.

“The Star’s position has always been – we support investment in tourism assets on the Gold Coast – but the Gold Coast market is too small for two casinos,” Mr O’Neill said.

“We are not alone in this assessment of the market. The introduction of another local casino competitor would force us to defend our local market share at the expense of driving incremental growth in interstate and international tourism.”

Star hoping for positive news on Pyrmont site

The Star is also hoping for a positive outcome from the NSW government’s Independent Planning Commission over its proposal for a new hotel tower at its Pyrmont site, which will be operated by the Ritz-Carlton.

Following three years of going through the development application process, the initial plan for the tower was rejected on height issues.

“Our attempts to boost tourism through the construction of a Ritz-Carlton hotel and apartments met with a disappointing recommendation to reject from the Department of Planning,” Mr O’Neill said.

“We can only hope the challenges we have faced trying to secure approval do not translate into an opportunity missed for Australian tourism.”

Star Entertainment chief executive Matt Bekier said that it had been a “mixed year” for the business, which was impacted by domestic consumer sentiment and global economic softening.

“The international VIP rebate business produced mixed results. While we delivered 10 per cent growth in uniquevisitation on the 2018 year, normalised revenue was down 30.7 per cent on the previous corresponding period due to substantially lower spend per customer,” Mr Bekier said.

He mentioned that statutory international VIP rebate business revenue declined at a lower rate of 17.6%, which was due to a higher comparable win rate.

In Melbourne, its casino rival Crown Resorts noted a 46% fall in turnover in the VIP program at its local resorts in the first few months of the financial year at its AGM last Thursday.

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