A committee for development in the north of Australia has recommended the Christmas Island Casino to be re-opened to diversify the island’s economy.
The recommendation comes from the final report on a parliamentary inquiry into the development of northern Australia, after the owner of the Christmas Island Resort raised the possibility of reopening the casino.
The owner, Soft Star Pty Ltd, maintained that the casino would boost the economic viability of Christmas Island through increased tourist visits, which in turn would help with the development of non-casino tourism activities.
The casino operated between 1993 and 1998, employing around 400 staff, equating to about a third of the island’s permanent residents.
“The committee believes that the reopening of the Christmas Island Casino is vital to the economic future of the island,” the report said.
“Neither mining nor immigration related activities will sustain the island’s economy indefinitely, and the casino has the potential to play a major role in transitioning the Christmas Island economy away from its traditional mainstays towards a future centred on tourism.”
The committee also said it had the potential to become a major source of jobs for the local community.
The casino catered mainly to high net worth Asian clientele, but was shut in 1998 after visitation dropped significantly following the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98.
A proposal to reopen the casino, put forward by a consortium of South Korean investors, was rejected by the federal government in 2004.
The resort covers 47 hectares at Waterfall Bay on the north-eastern coast of Christmas Island.