Casino li­cences spark de­bate in Whit­sun­days

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE -

THE an­nounce­ment by the State Gov­ern­ment that it may ap­prove three more casino li­cences, in­clud­ing two in re­gional Queens­land, has fu­elled ru­mours that one of th­ese may be in the Whit­sun­days.

Speak­ing about the new li­cences, Pre­mier Camp­bell Newman would not con­firm which re­sorts had shown an in­ter­est in in­te­grat­ing a casino into their de­vel­op­ment but he al­luded to those he men­tioned ear- lier this month when he re­turned from a trade mis­sion in Asia – Hay­man and La­guna Quays.

The sug­ges­tion that Whit­sun­day re­sorts may bid for the new li­cences has been met with mixed re­ac­tions.

Long time tourist op­er­a­tor Eric Bot­tle says a casino is just not the “Whit­sun­day thing”.

Mr Bot­tle, who has owned the Whit­sun­day Travel Cen­tre since 1983, said peo­ple trav­elled to the Whit­sun­days for the nat­u­ral beauty, not for the “glitz and glam­our”.

“Casino peo­ple, I think, are more into big cities,” Mr Bot­tle said.

How­ever, Whit­sun­days Mar­ket­ing and De­vel­op­ment CEO Da­nial Rochford said the State Gov­ern­ment should be con­grat­u­lated for mak­ing the de­ci­sion.

He said the state needed in­vest­ment like this in tourism and that the Whit­sun­days would en­joy a flow-on ef­fect, even if a casino was not built here.

He said three new casi­nos in Queens­land would re­sult in a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional tourists, par­tic­u­larly from Asia.

Mr Rochford said Queens­land was a multi-desti­na­tion state and the Whit­sun­days would there­fore ben­e­fit from an over­all in­crease in tourists.

Mayor Jen­nifer Whit­ney was un­avail­able to com­ment yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

A Hay­man Is­land Re­sort spokes­woman has con­firmed there are no cur­rent plans to seek or se­cure a casino li­cence.

Mean­while, Port of Air­lie and La­guna Quays Re­sort have been con­tacted but nei­ther had re­sponded prior to our dead­line yes­ter­day.

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