The Government has undertaken a thorough market sounding to understand the market’s:
- appetite to deliver new world class tourism infrastructure in Queensland
- preferred locations to establish this new tourism infrastructure
The market feedback was that there is strong interest in the Cairns region and the Gold Coast.
The Government will make a new casino licence available for the Tropical North to support a world class development.
The State supports inclusion of a casino within a GTH, to encourage a world class development. A casino in a GTH improves the prospect of securing investment commitments and can fund a greater number of, and better quality, hotels, shops, attractions and events that will drive visitation.
The Government also wants to use the impetus flowing from a casino licence to deliver a range of tourism, entertainment and other infrastructure that will drive the respective local economies and achieve city building.
The IRD process was only about delivering tourism related facilities based on gaming.
GTHs are not just about gaming. They include a whole range of tourist related facilities and attractions that not only support the growth of tourism in Queensland but also the city building objectives of the cities in which they are located.
This is why it is preferable that GTH’s are very much part of the CBD fabric. For example, the proposed Cairns GTH will support and integrate with the expansion of the Cairns Convention Centre. In this way, GTH developments have significant potential to inject extensive direct and indirect benefits to the economy, community and the state.
The Government has always said that if one or more of these projects did not proceed then it may go back to market. Consistent with that, the Government is now going back to market.
After having recently completed the market sounding process and cancelling The Spit project with ASF, the Government is now announcing its policy for delivering major tourism infrastructure in Queensland.
The Aquis and ASF proposals for Cairns and the Gold Coast were legacies of the previous government and simply were not on the right sites.
This government is committed to delivering a GTH in the Cairns region and understands that GTHs should only be developed on land that is suited to this type of development.
The Government is comfortable that the site in Cairns is in the right place and will have the planning framework to support the type of development it is looking to attract.
This provides certainty to the market and shows that the Government is serious about delivering world class tourism infrastructure to Queensland in regions that the market has identified as the most viable.
The mix of machines and gaming tables will be determined by negotiation between the successful proponent and the State’s Gaming Regulator. This will be based on projected international visitors and population growth.
There may be an increase in the net number of poker machines across the State. The vast majority of poker machines will still be in clubs and pubs, with less than 10% of Queensland’s operational Electronic Gaming Machines in casinos.
Under the new GTH process, there may be a new casino in the Cairns region.
As with Queens Wharf in Brisbane, it may be that the incumbent operators in Cairns meet the objectives of the Government and no new licence needs to be issued.
The reality is that the casino element is a strong financial driver that assists the private sector to deliver the less financially viable elements of a GTH such as new and revitalised public realm and infrastructure. These GTH developments are wholly delivered by the private sector with no cost or risk to the Government.
The casino element is usually less than 5% of the total area of a GTH, with the remaining development consisting of exciting world-class tourism attractions and an array of culinary and entertainment choices that will draw millions of additional annual visitors and provide thousands of construction and operational jobs. This may include 5 and 6 star hotels, entertainment precincts, shops and other attractions.
That would be their choice and they will be most welcome to be in the process. They have good and established reputations. Any new investment in local job-creating new regional tourism opportunities will be most welcome. That is our aim.
A GTH with a casino licence operates in a very different market to pubs and clubs who do not have an international tourist focus.
A GTH will specifically attract tourists and the premium gaming market to the Cairns region. This is an opportunity for local establishments and businesses to capitalise on more visitors spending more money.
Ensuring that local operators of clubs and pubs and the community at large are not adversely impacted will be a key consideration in the market process.
No, this process is not based on the sale of government land. The successful proponent may be offered a long-term lease to develop a high-quality tourism destination. The precise nature of any tenure agreements will be considered as part of the evaluation process.