Queensland govt scraps plans for second Gold Coast casino

13 July 2020

The government of the Australian state of Queensland has abandoned plans to award a second casino licence in the state, explaining that there was little appetite from investors for the project.

It has also ended negotiations with Star Entertainment Group, currently the state’s only casino licensee, over granting the operator a monopoly for casino gaming in Queensland.

This would have shut all other operators from the state’s casino market for 30 years, in return for Star Entertainment investing more than AUD$2.2bn in tourism projects.

Queensland development minister Kate Jones explained that “the deal on the table did not stack up for taxpayers”.

Despite the failure of these negotiations, Jones added that the current government would not launch a tender process for a second integrated resort on the Gold Coast.

“Global market conditions are clearly impacting investment at present and I can confirm that this government has no intention of reviving the market process for a new integrated resort – including a second casino – on the Gold Coast,” she explained.

Star Entertainment had opposed this project, having previously argued that the market was not large enough for two competing properties. However, despite not being guaranteed exclusivity, the operator said it would continue to invest heavily in the state, focusing on the Gold Coast.

This $2.2bn “masterplan” would deliver 9,000 construction jobs and 2,800 operational jobs, as well as seeing an additional 650 hotel rooms opened, as well as 2,000 luxury apartments.

In total the operator has committed around $4.5bn to “reinvigorate” tourism in South East Queensland, chairman John O’Neill said.

“Investments in Queen’s Wharf Brisbane alongside those on the Gold Coast where we’ve refurbished The Star Grand hotel, opened The Darling hotel and have the Dorsett hotel and apartments tower under construction are proof of our commitment to creating world-class tourism and entertainment destinations that will bring more than a million additional visitors to Queensland every year,” O’Neill said.

“We have confidence in the future of tourism and, under the right conditions, will continue to invest through our $2 billion-plus Gold Coast masterplan that will help government deliver further significant economic benefits for Queensland including thousands of jobs.”

In related news, a patron at the operator’s Star Sydney property in New South Wales (NSW) has tested positive for novel coronavirus (Covid-19). The individual in question visited the property from around 7:30pm to 10:30pm on 4 July.

The property is now working closely with the state’s health ministry NSW Health to carry out contact tracing for other visitors and staff members.

It pointed out that its Covid-Safe Plan, which was first published when the property reopened on 1 June, sets out measures to halt the spread of Covid-19 and had been developed and endorsed by two independent health experts. While the property originally opened for loyalty programme members only, its capacity was increased to 900 people from 19 June, then to 5,000 people from 1 July.

This sets out social distancing measures, as well as enhanced hygiene and sanitisation measures, including a daily comprehensive cleaning between 6am and 10am each day.