Sun, May 26, 12:15pm by Kevin Pitstock
The government of New South Wales announced it will impose a levy on the Sydney Star Casino to balance the costs of monitoring its operations. NSW Minister for Hospitality George Souris says monitoring a major gambling operation costs money and the people of the state shouldn’t have to pay those costs.
Instead, Souris argues the Star Casino should pay for the expenses of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, which is charged with assuring fairness and legality in gambling at the Australia’s second largest casino complex. At present, most of the expenses for the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority are paid through taxpayer money. While the agency has other duties in NSW, its single major duty is to regulate the activities of the Sydney Star Casino.
The exact amount of the fine has yet to be announced, but provisions in the legislation allow for increases in the levy due to inflation. Plans to institute the levy are in place for the beginning of the new financial year. This allows the Sydney Star Casino the ability to add such expenses into their next yearly projected budget.
The savings to taxpayers is expected to be substantial, especially knowing a second casino is likely to be built in New South Wales in the next few years. Such a levy is likely to be imposed on the new casino development in Sydney Harbour. As reported earlier, the Echo Entertainment Group (owners of the Star Sydney Casino) and the Crown Limited Corporation are currently in competition to see which is given the right to build a 21st century casino in the waterside area of Sydney Harbour.
The proposed new casino property, which would be named the Crown Sydney if James Packer has his way, is expected to be capable of enticing Asian high rollers to come to Sydney for gambling trips. Echo Entertainment currently has the exclusive license for gambling in New South Wales through 2019. The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority would be the regulatory agency for any proposed gambling venue, so a second levy is likely to be instituted.
When George Souris announced the levy, he defended the measure as a responsible way to maintain high standards in regulation. “A casino environment demands intensive oversight to ensure unique risks associated with such a venue are identified and managed within a strict regulatory framework,” said Minister for Hospitality George Souris.
“Regulatory systems are in place to protect industry integrity and ensure that the operation of the casino is free from criminal influence and also to promote community confidence.”
Legislating a levy makes a certain level of sense, though it’s suspected the Sydney Star Casino more than pays for itself already. The casino pays taxes on its revenues to the government of New South Wales. These taxes are substantial by any standards, so they are likely to cover the expenses of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority already.
Still, the Star Casino is the second largest of the gaming venues in Australia and it’s owned by the Echo Entertainment Group, which is itself affiliated with TABCORP. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before NSW realized these gaming interests could sustain one more levy.
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