Burswood bets on status quo

ON 24 December, the sun sets on Burswood’s exclusive casino licence.

After this date the WA Govern-ment can licence another casino within a 100 kilometre radius of the Burswood site.

However, any such venture will have to be of a comparable standard and scale to the Burswood operation.

Outside the 100 kilometre radius only an international-standard casino will be permitted.

The end of the arrangement is unlikely to allow coin-operated gambling games such as poker machines into WA’s pubs and clubs. Such machines will still only be allowed within a casino.

During Burswood’s exclusive casino rights reign there have been interesting attempts to get around the issue.

In 1996 there was a plan to base a converted ocean liner at Fremantle. The ship was to operate as a floating casino once it cleared Australia’s twelve nautical mile limit.

This proposal fell over due to a lack of funding.

Burswood Limited chairman David Young is not losing any sleep over the expiry of the exclusive licence.

He believes the fact that casino games will only be allowed in a venue of similar scale and standard to Burswood is a natural barrier to competitors.

Racing and Gaming Minister Norman Moore said the WA Government had no plans to issue any new casino licences.

Mr Moore said the WA Govern-ment had even given its qualified support to the Federal Government’s 12 month moratorium on the spread of Internet gaming.

“We are prepared to support a ban on new forms of online gambling such as poker machines but not on betting on the TAB or buying a lottery ticket,” Mr Moore said.

WA Premier Richard Court has made it clear he is not in favour of further gambling licences in the state.

When Mr Court announced the $100 million government funding for a dedicated convention centre, he said several venue operators had approached the government offering to build the centre for free, providing they were given another casino licence.

Those approaches were ignored.

A change of government in the next state election is highly unlikely to open the door for another casino operator either.

A spokesman for Opposition Leader Geoff Gallop said a WA Labor Government would not allow a second casino licence.

The spokesman said the Labor Party had spoken out against proposals to allow poker machines into pubs.

Australian Hotels Association WA Branch executive director Bradley Woods said he believed there was an opportunity for another form of gaming in WA.

However, he too is pessimistic about the chances of a second casino licence being granted, given the current political climate.

“I believe allowing another casino to operate in WA without letting pubs and clubs have gaming machines would be extremely hypocritical,” Mr Woods said.

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