Queensland Seeks Investments from Caesars or MGM Resorts
Queensland is sending officials to meet with Las Vegas and Macau casino companies, hoping to spur investments in their prospective casino industry. Queensland once had several multi-billion dollar casinos in the works, but some of those developments have stalled and officials from the northeastern Australian state want to attract a new wave of foreign investment.
Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones is leading a team of government officials to Las Vegas and Macau in an attempt of getting some of the world’s most prominent casino operators to invest in developments being planned for Cairns and Gold Coast.
The large Australian state, located opposite the Great Barrier Reef, are actively searching for investors in China and the United States. The search begins to find funding help for a new casino in Queensland.
Meetings with Caesars and MGM Resorts
The group plans to meet with gambling industry powerhouses such as Las Vegas-headquartered Caesars Entertainment Corporation, as well as MGM Resorts International. Kate Jones told Nine Network, “Our strategy is all based around attracting more visitors who stay longer and spend more in Queensland to create jobs for locals.”
With this meeting Jones hopes to attract investments to build a pair of billion-dollar integrated casino resorts. Integrated resorts featuring casinos, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, retail outlets, shows, exhibits, and other attractions. These various activities are integrated into a destination point within the city.
The idea is to build a casino for gamblers in a family unit, but offer shopping, dining, and non-gaming entertainment for members of a family to enjoy while the bettors gamble. While VIP high-rollers are welcome, the integrated casino-resort seeks mass market participation with family-friendly fun.
Star Entertainment’s Queensland Casinos
The Sydney-based Star Entertainment Group Limited currently has a stranglehold on casino gambling in the state through its Treasury Casino Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast property. In March, the group formerly known as Echo Entertainment broke ground to make way for its $2.3 billion Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development. Star Entertainment plans a grand opening for the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane by the end of 2022.
Kate Jones’ efforts so far have raised more questions than investments. Opposition politicians have questioned the value of Jones’ taxpayer-funded trips. Jones has told the press she is paying for her own accommodation during this trip to Las Vegas.
The tourism official said, “I have been approached by some of the world’s most successful entertainment companies keen to invest in Queensland but we’re working to make sure we get the balance right for Queenslanders.”
Gold Coast Southport Spit
Back in August of 2017, the Queensland government rejected plans to build a $3 billion casino resort on the Gold Coast’s Southport Spit.
Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said that the local communities wanted to preserve the parkland site for future generations. Also, transport issues associated with the development caused plans for the casino project to be shut down, so the Labor government rejected the plan altogether.
At the time, Palaszczuk said, “This is a unique site — the equivalent to what Central Park is to New York. It should be preserved for generations.”
Queenland’s top leader said plans for five high-rise towers and the Chinese-backed ASF’s proposal would have meant increased rates and taxes for locals in order to fund transport solutions. The premier added, “I am not going to do that.”
That decision did not upend future plans for a possible integrated resort development altogether, but it ended ASF’s interest. Tony Fung’s long-awaited $4 billion+ Aquis casino-resort continues to develop slowly, but the project started in 2013 and touted in 2016 has not had a grand opening yet.
Jackie Trad, the deputy premier, said any new developmental plans would have limitations. Queensland’s second-ranking official said, “This locks in low-density, three-story development for our future generations. It also helps get the balance right between protecting environmental and community values and allowing appropriate commercial development.”
Queensland: Saturated Gaming Market?
Under the circumstances, the upcoming trips to Las Vegas and Macau represent a Hail Mary attempt to collect investors for the area. As a general rule, Las Vegas casino companies like Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts seek out officials when they find an area they want to expand into. Casino operators are sometimes wooed into an area with huge tax breaks and other incentives.
If Kate Jones wants to lure Caesars, MGM, or a top Chinese company to Queensland, then she’ll likely need to offer low taxes. Queensland currently has 12 land-based casinos. These twelve gaming venues have a combined 10,170 poker machines (slot machine) and a total of 318 table games. The top Queensland casinos are the Treasury Casino in Brisbane and the Star Gold Coast in Broadbeach, which some readers might remember as Jupiters Hotel and Casino.
The Ville Resort-Casino located in Townsville also has had previous names, including Jupiters Townsville Hotel and Casino and, before that, the Sheraton Breakwater Casino Hotel. The Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns was a controversial gaming venue when it was built, but it remains the largest of Queensland’s casinos.