A second casino on the Gold Coast is the answer to stamping out bad cultural practices within the industry, according to the Gold Coast City Mayor Tom Tate.
- The Queensland government ceased plans for a second casino license on the Gold Coast in 2020
- Star Entertainment Group must prove why its fit to operate casinos in Queensland
- Industry critics believe Star Entertainment Group should have its casino license canceled
“Monopolies never provide the best environment for consumers, whether it is airlines, supermarkets, resorts or casinos”, Mr Tate said.
The Queensland government sought expressions of interest for additional casino licenses for the Gold Coast and Cairns in 2018 but that process was halted in July 2020.
Mr Tate believes there was strong interest from prospective operators but ultimately the Star Entertainment Group remains the only license holder on the Gold Coast.
“Choice creates healthy competition and gives patrons better access to entertainment, world class cuisine, accommodation and experiences,” Mr Tate said.
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman has deemed Star Entertainment Group unsuitable to hold a casino license and announced the state’s casino regulator has issued a show cause notice as to why it should continue operating in Queensland.
Star Entertainment Group has been given 21 days to respond to the show cause notice.
An independent review by the former Court of Appeal Judge Robert Gotterson has made 12 recommendations, including that casino laws in Queensland be amended as a priority to allow for the appointment of a special manager to increase supervision and integrity of casino operations.
Mr Tate said whatever the outcome of that process, a second casino operator would create an environment of greater compliance to gaming regulations.
“To have one casino, when you know you are the only house in town, you can relax a little bit of how you behave,” he said.
“When you have competition, you roll up your sleeve, you market it, and you make sure that all of the legislation is ticked off because the competitor will be doing the same.”
Community at risk
A long-term critic of Australia’s gambling industry, Tim Costello believes the Gold Coast community has been placed at risk by the operators of the Star Casino.
“When you hear the words ‘money laundering’, it is just code for enabling organized crime,” Reverend Costello said.
“The people who are selling ice to our kids and some of the crims that are stealing and sometimes trafficking women, these are the people who launder their money at a casino.”
“They are then untouchable by the police because their unexplained wealth is clean.”
Reverend Costello, an advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, says the Star Entertainment Group must lose its license to operate in Queensland completely.
“Until a casino actually loses its license, we won’t actually clean this up and the community won’t believe there is real regulation,” he said.
“Just ask yourself this question: if any other business with a state license is found to be unfit, would they keep their license? We all know the answer.”