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Star CEO frustrated with Gold Coast casino plans

Tue, Jan 15, 12:54pm by Staff Writer

Star Entertainment CEO Matt Bekier has signaled his frustration at the lack of clarity surrounding a second Gold Coast casino. Mr Bekier has signaled that the proposed second casino is a “headache” as it is creating uncertainty for investors in Star’s $2 billion Broadbeach masterplan.

Gold Coast city councillors recently voted to explore the opportunity of a second Gold Coast casino. The Palaszczuk State Government is developing a framework for the Global Tourism Hub associated with the hotel, but is yet to call for interest on the Gold Coast.

The state government introduced the Global Tourism Hub concept that involves the construction of integrated resorts across the state.

The tourism hub would seek to attract high-profile musical acts, contain apartments, a shopping centre and gaming venue.

Mr Bekier questioned the validity of the Global Tourism Hub saying: “have you seen a paper that actually says this is what a Global Tourism Hub looks like, where it is, these are the companies, tender by this day?”

There is currently only a process for a casino licenses in Cairns, with plans for the second Gold Coast casino uncertain.

Mr Bekier remarked to the Bulletin that the speculation and lack of clarity is creating headaches for investors.

“It gives me headaches because our investors are unsettled, our partners are unsettled and we are spending a lot of time trying to explain something very hard to explain.”

Tourism Industry Development Minister Katie Jones said that: “no forma process is underway for the Global Tourism Hub on the Gold Coast” when asked about how advanced plans were for the second casino.

The Star’s expansion teetering

A Star spokesman re-emphasised the casinos A$2 billion, seven-tower Broadbeach island expansion masterplan was dependent on no new competitors in the region when speaking in November 2018.

The Star Gold Coast was formerly known as Jupiters Casino until 2007 after opening in 1986.

The seven-acre complex includes eight bars, seven restaurants, conference facilities, a ballroom, theatre, health spa and gym.

The hotel has 592 rooms across 21 floors.

The plan aims to attract national and international investors and is expected to boost Queensland’s A$25 billion tourism industry that supports more than 200,000 jobs.

Chief Executive Officer of Queensland Clubs Doug Flockhart told the Gold Coast Bulletin that recent research has shown that a second casino on the Coast would have a direct impact on at least 30 local clubs and an indirect impact on hundreds around the state.

The state’s community club sector contributes A$850 million back to communities and a second casino would affect these contributions Mr Flockhart said.

“The issue of the second casino has been around for a long time and it seems to come back all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes. Our position has been very consistent that there isn’t enough capacity in the marketplace,” Mr Bekier told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

The site of the casino remains unknown, with locations in Southport and Broadwater Parklands proposed by Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate.

Global corporate research company Macquarie Research notes that a development of larger than A$400 million would struggle to deliver an ‘appropriate return’.

“We see challenges in generating an appropriate return on a development larger than A$400 million,” Macquarie said.

The existing Star Casino on the Gold Coast has recently been approved for A$2 billion in upgrades, with a company spokesman outlining it was focused on expanding its facilities and not on a potential new local player.

“The Gold Coast is not the most attractive market for a new integrated resort and casino, in our view, relative to other regions within Australia, Macquarie said”

The Star Casino’s masterplan includes a commitment to no more poker machines for the Gold Coast and would integrate tourism assets across the Star Gold Coast, Queens Wharf Brisbane and the Sheraton Grand Mirage to A$9 billion.

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