An off-shore boutique gaming license is not about gambling – it’s about investment!

An off-shore boutique gaming license is not about gambling – it’s about investment!

It’s about keeping up with global tourism trends and visitor expectations.  It’s about providing a mechanism for international investors to create an economically viable business, which is exactly why Tony Fung’s Aquis at Yorkeys Knob in Cairns needs a casino license to secure international investment, and both the current and former state governments acknowledge this fact.

It’s about providing an even playing field to one of the fastest growing tourism trends in the world – cruise ships.  Every single cruise ship in the world has a gaming license and Great Barrier Reef Island resorts should be no different.

Great Keppel Island could be a pilot project to stimulate much needed new investment into the Queensland tourism industry, creating 1500 jobs and enormous regional economic benefit, providing increased tax revenue to the state and federal governments.

Should other island resorts like Hamilton and Hayman Islands in the Whitsundays also receive a boutique gaming license?  It would be hard to deny otherwise, provided Great Keppel Island is afforded a fair playing ground, which currently it is not.

In a letter dated 28th August 2014 from JLL to Tower Holdings, it advised “Groups assessing the development monitored the State Government’s Casino tender process closely throughout the investment campaign for GKI.  When it was announced that the project had not received a Casino Licence there was an immediate drop in interest levels from across the target market.  Immediately cited the significant impact on the feasibility of developing a 5 star hotel and resort without a Casino to underpin revenue.

Both the former and current state governments declined the casino application for Tower Holdings under the Integrated Resort Development scheme, with a senior bureaucrat stating it “was not a game changing project for the region and would not deliver significant regional economic benefits”.

Interestingly, both the former and current state governments have encouraged Tower Holdings to apply to the government for a Casino license, which Tower did on the 8th October 2014.

The response from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation dated the  9th October 2014 states “Please note there is no provision within the Casino Control Act 1982, or any other legislation, for a person to apply for any form of casino licence, other than in response to an offer from the Government…..Casino licenses are granted at the discretion of the Government and at this stage no new casino licenses are intended to be considered outside of the ongoing IRD process.”

Fast forward to 15th May 2015, Tower Holdings have again written to the state government to apply for a casino license and at the time of writing this column, we do not know the outcome.

What we do know is this.  The Casino Control Act 1982 (valid August 2014) states in part 3, article 18 that “Notwithstanding any other Act or law – (a) the Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, grant casino licences;

It goes onto state in article 19 that “Agreement to precede grant of casino licence

(1) The Governor in Council shall grant a casino licence pursuant to the Governor in Council’s power to do so under section 18(a) where— (a) there has first been entered into with the Governor in

Council’s approval an agreement in writing between—(i) the Minister for and on behalf of the State and the casino licensee;”

In other words, if there is a will by Government, the Minister can grant a casino license.

So, if the government do not have the will, then as the Mayor of Livingstone Shire Council stated “GKI Stalemate with leave Tourism Future Grounded.”

Until next time…

Mary Carroll, CEO Capricorn Enterprise

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