Thu, Oct 17, 4:05pm by Dominic Ciconte
QUEENSLAND is set to become Australia’s gambling Mecca following the State Government’s decision to offer three new casino licences across the state. The three new casinos will take the state’s number up to seven.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman confirmed that Monday’s decision was made to assist the state in competing for global tourism, while also creating thousands of jobs for the state.
“We’re in a global competition for tourists,” he said. “The offering we have at the moment, I’m afraid, is not up there with our competitors and that’s why we’re taking this step.”
Newman also stipulated that any new development could not just be a stand-alone casino. Mr Newman and his deputy, Jeff Seeney said they would only consider awarding licences as part of an integrated resort-style development.
“Integrated developments, including casinos, have proven their ability to increase visitor numbers and stays elsewhere in the world,” Mr Seeney said. “They are not just casinos as we have previously seen in Queensland, in fact, the casino is the only part of these major developments which are tourism draw cards in their own right.”
Mr Newman said that without the new resorts, which included the casinos, Queensland’s tourism future was “bleak”.
The announcement will almost certainly set up another battle in the ‘casino wars’ between James Packer’s Crown empire and Echo Entertainment – owners of Sydney’s Star Casino. The two parties recently competed for Sydney’s new casino licence – which Crown was awarded to add to its thriving casinos in Melbourne, Perth, Macau and London.
Reverend Tim Costello, a chairperson on the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, told ABC News that the Government’s decision was “depressing”. “These are state licences and the state should be acting in the interests of Queensland people,” he said. “I think this is utterly irresponsible.”
Gambling counsellor Reverend John Tully says their presence will have a devastating impact. “It will rip families apart and each gambler will affect 10 to 15 other people,” he said.
Reverend Tully says the Queensland Government is being greedy. “A certain French politician said the art is to pluck the goose without too much hissing – well, gamblers and addicts are willing taxpayers,” he said.
The Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) has also raised concern about the impact of more casinos and gambling opportunities.
The three new licences will do fantastic things for the Queensland economy and, if developed and designed well, will definitely attract tourists from around the globe. A bit of competition between casino giants can only be a good thing for the average punter – this is an exciting announcement for Queensland and the gaming industry.
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