DEVELOPERS who gambled the Queensland Government would be open to allowing more casinos have a strong hand in the jostle to build a cruise ship terminal on the Gold Coast Broadwater.
The indication from Premier Campbell Newman (pictured) that he will consider giving out three new casino licenses is a boost for the cruise ship terminal plans, which are due by Thursday.
The interested parties believe a casino is a must for any cruise ship terminal development in the area, as it will be required to fund the ongoing expense of keeping the Broadwater navigable by the giant cruise liners.
Developer of Jewel at Broadbeach, RDG, recently pulled out of the Expression of Interest (EOI) process, reportedly due to concerns a casino would not be allowed as part of the development.
Former agitator for a Broadwater casino on Wavebreak Island, Sembawang, also claimed a casino was necessary to make a cruise ship terminal viable.
Premier Campbell Newman says one of the proposed new licenses will be for the redevelopment of the former government offices, adjacent to the parliament in the Brisbane CBD.
The other two are up for grabs, a handy situation for the cruise ship terminal bidders, who have to have plans in to the government on Thursday.
“The Government believes Queensland can sustain up to three new integrated resort casinos and believes there would be strong interest in other parts of the state,” Newman says.
Owner and operator of existing Brisbane casino, Echo Entertainment (ASX:EGP) is already locked in a battle with Crown Limited (ASX:CWN) for the right to build the new casino and associated high-class entertainment precinct.
The decision on which company builds the integrated resort, which could include a six-star resort, public areas and entertainment zone, will come down to the result of EOI campaign, launched by the premier yesterday.
“The Government has decided that a casino licence will be offered in the EOI process to encourage the provision of a world class integrated development in Brisbane’s CBD,” says Newman.
The EOI for the government precinct redevelopment will go to the market by the end of the year.
The premier says the large project would deliver significant boosts to both the construction and tourism sectors of the state economy, as evidenced by Singapore’s experience.
Singapore’s foreign visitor numbers were declining until two integrated resorts came online in 2010, when numbers rose by 20 per cent. The resorts contributed $3.7 billion to Singapore’s gross domestic product during the first nine months of operation, of which only $720 million was attributed to gaming tax.
Newman believes an integrated resort in Brisbane’s CBD could have the same benefits for the state.
“Integrated developments including casinos have proven their ability to increase visitor numbers and stays elsewhere in the world,” says Newman.
“They are not just casinos as we have previously seen in Queensland; in fact, the casino is only part of these major developments which are tourism drawcards in their own right.”
“There is no doubt a project of this scope and size holds enormous potential for the development and tourism sectors, for the residents of Brisbane and visitors to the city.”
A draft Queensland Casino Policy will be released for public comment at the same time as the EOI.
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