Star Gold Coast given first go at impressing government
The stakes have been raised for those contending for a licence for the second Gold Coast casino.
The ABC reports that the city’s sole operator, The Star, has been given a chance to trump other offers and prove the city does not need another casino to attract more tourists and boost the local economy.
The Queensland government suspended what it termed an ‘open and transparent’ process for a global tourism hub that had been in place for more than a year.
Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones said the process had attracted interest from at least 10 proponents, including overseas interest.
“The Star has said it wants to make a multi-billion dollar investment into the Gold Coast and a second integrated resort is not needed to attract more international tourists,” Ms Jones said.
“We will suspend the current global tourism hub process to fast track negotiations with The Star so they can put their best foot forward and we can assess what their true offer is for the Gold Coast.”
The Star has offered to pay for the expansion of the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre and upgrade its own Broadbeach complex – in exchange for exclusivity as the city’s sole casino operator.
“We expect that in the next 10 days The Star will come back to government with a clear indication of what their plans will be,” she said.
“They have said they believe they can deliver a global tourism hub on the Gold Coast and that is what we will have to assess.”
Advisory panel provided detailed report
The government appointed an advisory panel made of tourism, business and community representatives to gauge public opinion on the issue in March.
Chairman John Witheriff said the five-member group conducted face-to-face meetings, analysed written submissions, conducted focus groups and undertook a series of random surveys over a couple of months.
Mr Witheriff said they also consulted community groups who were strongly against a second casino.
“It was a very detailed and thorough consultation process and we used external resources to make sure we weren’t missing something,” he said.
He said just over 30 per cent of people surveyed objected to the idea of a second casino.
Ms Jones said more than half of the respondents supported or had no concerns about a second casino provided it was part of an integrated resort built on private land.
“We have no intention of making public land available for a second casino,” Ms Jones said.
“If [The Star’s masterplan] meets the threshold of delivering additional tourism numbers and attracting international visitation – which was the whole reason for setting the second casino licence up – we will have clarity.”
State opposition questions deal
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington labelled the announcement as “policy by media release”.
“The people of the Gold Coast need to know what’s going on, what deals have been done, are they backroom deals?” the party leader said.
The announcement comes after reports Star Entertainment covered the costs of a Labor fundraiser for Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath in 2017.
Ms Frecklington said it’s a bad look when the Attorney-General is responsible for regulating gambling.
The Star welcomed the opportunity to negotiate with the state government according to a media release.
“If we are given the green light, we can move quickly to commence projects that will deliver thousands of construction and operational jobs and opportunities for Queensland suppliers,” it said.
“If rolled out in full, The Star will be able to showcase more than $9 billion worth of tourism investments and infrastructure across South East Queensland.