- »The Star and Queensland Government Nix Second Casino
The Star and Queensland Government Nix Second Casino
The coronavirus pandemic had had tremendous impact on businesses around the world in a variety of ways. While this may be a good time for some segments of society to invest and grow, the Queensland government decided this wouldn’t be the best time to move forward with plans for a second casino.
The Stars Entertainment Group will have to focus on its properties that have lost months of revenue during Covid-19-related shutdowns, saving plans for a second casino in Queensland for another time.
Original Billion-Dollar Plan
Always wanting to expand and grow, The Star Entertainment Group announced a massive project in 2018. The company planned to invest more than $2 billion into improvements to make the resort on Broadbeach Island an even bigger and more comprehensive property.
At the point of this proposal, The Star had already invested more than $7 billion. However, it wanted to add four additional towers for about 3,000 more hotels and apartments, some new restaurants and bars, and new retail stores and resort facilities.
According to CEO Matt Bekier at that time, “The masterplan in its entirety would see The Star Gold Coast boast more tourism accommodation than any other resort in Australia.”
Partners Chow Tai Fook Enterprises out of Hong Kong and the Far East Consortium International were the two major joint venture partners in the deal.
With that, the Queensland government approved the project.
A Casino: Yes, No, Maybe So
The Star initiated discussions with the Queensland government to add a second casino to the plans. Those talks continued into 2019, at which point the company officially put that second casino on the table. And throughout it all, The Star made clear that it had no intentions of adding more gaming machines.
However, by the end of 2019, The Star Chairman John O’Neill conceded that the Gold Coast may not be big enough to handle two casinos. He also admitted that the years of debate about that second casino had weighed heavily on the company’s share prices and caused frustration for all involved.
Most Aussies believed that the second casino was off the table.
The government of Queensland continued floating various plans. One idea was to offer a second casino to provide competition for The Star. Another involved giving The Star Entertainment Group a monopoly over casino gaming in the state for 30 years in exchange for the company continuing to invest more than $2.2 billion in tourism projects.
Official No to Casino
Several weeks ago, The Star issued an ASX announcement to welcome the Queensland government’s decision “to end the second Gold Coast casino license process.”
The latest round of talks pertained – again – to granting The Star exclusivity regarding the “Global Tourism Hub” plan. They noted that “an agreement could not be reached.” Even so, The Star will continue working with Queensland government officials to improve tourism, especially in response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic and the economic distress it caused.
Further, The Star noted that the government ended its broader plans for issuing a second casino license on the Gold Coast. “There is no intention of reviving it.”
Business News Australia spoke to Queensland State Development Minister Kate Jones about the decision. She commented, “Through the exclusive negotiation process for a Gold Coast Global Tourism Hub, we worked really hard to extract value from The Star, but the deal on the table did not stack up for taxpayers.”
On behalf of The Star, Chairman O’Neill agreed but said its $2.2 billion masterplan continues, with the long-term plan spanning to 2038. The construction project includes 650 more hotel rooms and 2,000 luxury apartments.
O’Neill also expressed confidence that the masterplan will further benefit Queensland in the tourism realm and by adding thousands of jobs. He did add the caveat “under the right conditions.” Covid-19 admittedly tossed a wild card into everything.
Queen’s Wharf Brisbane Acknowledged
The Star has also been busying itself with the Queens’s Wharf Brisbane development project. With partners Chow Tai Fook and the Far East Consortium, the $3.6 billion project is in the process of building four new luxury hotels, two thousand apartments, more than 50 new bars and restaurants, and public space approximately the size of 12 football fields.
As this project moves forward, The Star noted that Queen’s Wharf Brisbane is garnering a lot of attention and accolades.
The annual Master Builders Housing & Construction Awards not only acknowledged The Star’s work at Queen’s Wharf but awarded it the prize for Best Public Recreational Facility. The award recognized the work on the 500-metre upgrade of the Bicentennial Bikeway, as well as the construction of the Boat House, Waterline Park, and Mangrove Walk.
The Star indicated its honor to be recognized for the award that gave a nod to building innovation, quality craftsmanship, and the promotion of excellence in Queensland’s housing and construction industries.
Brisbane Consortium Project Director Simon Crooks said the award rewards their project decisions, designs, and skillful delivery of those designs “delivered to the highest standard by a team of professionals.” He also noted that the project overcame challenges and incorporated innovations to ensure the best possible outcomes for Brisbane and impacts for stakeholders.