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High rollers’ room staying put: casino

BURSWOOD International Resort Casino managing director John Schaap has ruled out any possibility that the high rollers’ room could be moved to Kerry Packer’s proposed Westralia Square II development.

Publishing and Broadcasting Limited has taken just under a 5 per cent shareholding in Burswood.

Close Packer associate Lloyd Williams holds a similar stake in the casino, prompting speculation that Mr Packer’s PBL was positioning itself for a future takeover of Burswood.

The Wyllie Group, which will own 80 per cent of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre to be built across the road from Westralia Square II, has a 9.9 per cent stake in Burswood.

Sources involved in the winning PCEC bid have confirmed that the possibility of moving the high rollers’ room to Westralia Square II had been raised.

The WA Government has capped shareholdings in Burswood at 10 per cent. However, Genting and later the Victoria Company were previously allowed to hold 50 per cent of the casino’s stock.

Both Government and Burswood are understood to be in favour of lifting the cap.

Mr Schaap described the speculation as nonsense.

“Irrespective of anything else, Burswood has the gaming licence,” he said.

“What is good news is Publishing and Broadcasting Limited see Burswood as a good investment.”

However, if the WA Government removes the 10 per cent ownership cap and PBL decides Burswood is such a good investment it wants all of it, the question of who holds the gaming licence becomes moot.

Mr Schaap said Burswood’s negotiations with Government, stalled for a time due to the State election, were back on.

“Our object is to put our view forward so the Government knows where we’re coming from,” he said.

“We want to contemporise our agreement.

“The agreement we operate under was written 16 years ago.”

Mr Schaap refused to go into specifics on the casino’s negotiations with Government.

However, it is understood removal of a ban on poker machines is one of the items under discussion.

Analysts say removal of such a ban would benefit both the Government and Burswood.

Burswood runs gaming machines that require players to make decisions such as which cards to hold or discard and have a total spin time of around five seconds.

Pokies require no player decisions and have a total spin time of about three seconds.

CIBC World Markets analyst Robert Gee said pokies would help Burswood double its earnings from its gaming machines, which would have a huge impact on the casino’s bottom line.

An increased bottom line for Burswood would mean more revenue for the Government through the tax it levies on the casino.

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