Sat. Apr 4th, 2020

Second Gold Coast Casino Push Raises Concerns about Problem Gambling and Market Saturation

3 min read

But the announcement has also alarmed anti-gambling groups, who say Queensland is being turned into Australia’s version of Nevada, the home state of Las Vegas, and is a magnet for problem gamblers.

On the other hand, Star Entertainment Group, which runs the Star Casino at Broadbeach, has said the city’s gaming machine market is already saturated.

Authorities will need to balance the potential economic benefits from such a big project against the potential for further harm to families and the broader community.

What’s been announced?

Tourism Minister Kate Jones told ABC Radio the Queensland Government will open an expression-of-interest process, allowing companies to put forward proposals for a casino and integrated resort.

She said it would be a $1 billion development and that it had to include several key elements, including “a major Gold Coast concert venue, new entertainment facilities, convention space, high-end dining and retail experience”.

The location for such a venue within the city would be proposed by the organisations applying to build and run it.

But the Queensland Government has already ruled out The Southport Spit, a major park north of Surfers Paradise, as well as Wave Break Island in the Southport Broadwater — the sites of the ASF Consortium’s previous failed casino proposal.

“We don’t want a decision made in Brisbane about where the best place on the Gold Coast should be,” Ms Jones said.

“What we are saying is we’ll go to market and the market can come forward with what the sites they think stacks up.”

Ms Jones said a Gold Coast Tourism Advisory Panel would be created to offer advice on the proposed casino.

She said the State Government estimated a second casino and resort would create 6,000 local jobs.

Why are anti-gambling groups alarmed?

Stephen Mayne from The Alliance for Gambling Reform said Queensland was already the second-worst state in Australia for gambling losses, running at an average of more than $1,000 per person.

“The idea they are going to have six casinos (in Queensland), I mean they are turning it into a Nevada,” Mr Mayne said.

The anti-gambling activist is concerned about the impact of a second casino on the city.

“It will be very interesting to see what the proposal is in terms of any more poker machines — will they have to buy them off existing pub and club operators?” he said.

“Or will the Government allow an increase?

“We think there should be a decrease in Queensland and there certainly shouldn’t be any increase on the Gold Coast given that $330 million a year is already lost at Gold Coast pubs and clubs which have poker machines.”

Mr Mayne said he did not believe job creation justified an extra casino.

Could Star build the second casino?

Ms Jones told ABC Radio the Star Entertainment Group, which runs the Gold Coast’s existing casino, is free to apply to the State Government’s expression of interest process for a second casino.

“If The Star wants to put forward an integrated resort and can build the case they should be the only proponent (on the Gold Coast) then we are welcome to that, but we want a true integrated resort that delivers increased public infrastructure for Gold Coast residents,” the Minister said.

But Star Entertainment Group Queensland managing director Geoff Hogg said they had already committed to $2 billion expansion plans at their Broadbeach site.

“We are very pleased to have done public consultation in 2016 and then to get the Government approval to be able to expand up to another four towers on the island, in addition to the tower we have already commenced,” he said.

Mr Hogg said the city’s gaming machine market is already saturated and that Star Entertainment Group would not be increasing its gambling services.

He said the Queensland Government held no conversations with the gaming company about signing contracts to guarantee its expansion plans.

“For us, we have got to find out a bit more about what that means, what it involves, I don’t have enough information to comment,” he said.

“The key message for us is we have just been getting on and doing our development and continuing to invest in the coast.”

State Opposition tourism spokesman David Crisafulli criticised the Government’s process, saying the plans kept changing.

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