Labor fundraiser for gaming minister called into question

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
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Star Entertainment hosted and covered the costs of a Labor fundraiser at its Brisbane casino hotel for Queensland’s Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath.

The Australian reports that Ms D’Ath, who regulates gaming, was at the time considering whether or not to approve the gambling giant’s “masterplan” for its Gold Coast operations.

The fundraiser, at $125 a head, was held in a private dining room at the Treasury Hotel in Brisbane’s CBD in the lead-up to the 2017 state election, with food and alcohol also paid for by the gaming company.

The fundraiser was billed as “The Great Debate: Lawyer Make the Best Politicians” and raised tens of thousands of dollars for Ms D’Ath and included a panel of four former state Labor Attorney-General’s, including Paul Lucas, who is married to Star Group executive external affairs director Alison Smith.

The Star was at the time lobbying the Palaszczuk government not to proceed with plans for a rival second casino on the Gold Coast and had submitted its $2 billion masterplan for its existing operations in the tourism city to Ms D’Ath, which she later approved.

The Palaszczuk government withdrew its backing for a bid to build a second rival Gold Coast casino ahead of the November 2017 state election, although the possibility of a second licence is still being considered.

Star desperate to keep Queensland monopoly

The Star owns the only casinos on the Gold Coast and Brisbane, where it is currently building the $3.6 billion Queens Wharf integrated resort in the CBD.

It was revealed earlier this week that Ms D’Ath was among the government cabinet ministers to have received free sporting tickets and accommodation from the Star.

She accepted tickets to the athletics finals and closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, including seats in the Star’s corporate box and a couple of nights in its hotels on the Gold Coast.

Caesars interest in Gold Coast casino thwarted

One of Las Vegas’ biggest casino brands reportedly decided recently that it would not move forward with trying to win a casino licence in Australia.

Casino.org is reported in June that Caesars, which had been eyeing Australia’s Gold Coast as a possible destination in its international expansion plans, has opted against contesting for the licence in the Queensland city.

Some reports indicate Caesars did not give a reason for scuttling its Australia overture and while the decision was made weeks before the Eldorado offer became official, several factors are known about Eldorado’s interest in the operator of Flamingo and Bally’s.

In mid June, Eldorado acquired Caesars Entertainment Corp for $8.58 billion, with one of Nevada’s underdogs becoming the largest owner of casino’s in the United States.

Caesars shareholders will receive about $12.75 a share, including $8.40 in cash, a 28 per cent premium to the casino chain’s close last week.

While the combined company will retain the Caesars name, there’s no mistaking who’s buying whom in this transaction: Eldorado with a market value of less than $4 billion, has clinched the giant from Las Vegas and its flagship Caesars Palace.

Eldorado’s interest in Caesars dates back to 2018, with the sides entering into talks about a possible combination in March.

Under the Caesars, Horseshoe and Harrah’s names, among others, Caesars Entertainment operates gaming properties on three continents outside North American, where it has a footprint in more than a dozen US states, as well as Canada.

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