Could Dubbo be the new Ve­gas?

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By LY­DIA PEDRANA

AT the mo­ment, Dub­ve­gas is just a nick­name, but Dubbo should have a casino.

That’s ac­cord­ing to a mo­tion put for­ward by Coun­cil­lor John Ryan, who also writes for this pub­li­ca­tion, at Mon­day night’s coun­cil meet­ing.

Cr Ryan jus­ti­fied his pitch for a re­stricted gam­ing li­cence to set up a lo­cally-owned, not-for-profit casino, say­ing it would help en­sure the medi­u­mand long-term vi­a­bil­ity of the re­gion by pump­ing money gen­er­ated by the casino back into the community through grass­roots so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­grams.

Un­der Cr Ryan’s plan, the casino would have no poker ma­chines, to avoid tak­ing that busi­ness away from pubs and clubs who al­ready op­er­ate them, it would at­tract lo­cal and over­seas vis­i­tors to the re­gion, and it would pro­vide a hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism train­ing ground for peo­ple from lower so­cioe­co­nomic back­grounds.

Cr Ryan’s idea for a casino stemmed from see­ing the pulling power of the Wrest Point Ho­tel Casino in Tas­ma­nia and Las­seters Ho­tel Casino in Alice Springs.

Hav­ing thought “long and hard” about it and not­ing that he does not gam­ble him­self, Cr Ryan is con­vinced a casino will ben­e­fit Dubbo and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

“With funds for so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­grams much more dif­fi­cult to come by in re­cent years, I be­lieve the not-for-profit dol­lars (gen­er­ated from the casino) should be used in the ar­eas of grass­roots proac­tive drug and al­co­hol ini­tia­tives, re­hab and detox­i­fi­ca­tion, the restora­tion of fish habi­tats in our rivers, and all those things which pro­vide in­tan­gi­ble community well-be­ing, but which re­ceive lit­tle or no fund­ing,” he said at Mon­day night’s monthly Coun­cil meet­ing.

“The di­rec­tion of th­ese funds will be de­cided by lo­cal peo­ple, at a lo­cal level and with no strings at­tached; if it is for the community gen­eral good and it can be jus­ti­fied, it can be funded with­out red tape or bu­reau­cracy get­ting in the way.”

The casino, in Cr Ryan’s opinion, would draw in­ter­na­tional tourists to the cen­tral west giv­ing the re­gion a chance to cash in on the Chi­nese tourist dol­lar, just as other casi­nos in the coun­try do.

His the­ory is that the Dubbo casino would act as a ‘Gate­way to the Out­back’, and while peo­ple will come for the casino, they will visit other lo­cal at­trac­tions while in town, like the zoo, the Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor fa­cil­ity, Wellington Caves and the up­com­ing Wi­rad­juri ex­pe­ri­ence too.

Know­ing there will be naysay­ers given the stigma of gam­bling in Aus­tralia, Cr Ryan said “that horse has al­ready well and truly bolted”.

“There are un­lim­ited means to gam­ble th­ese days in­clud­ing a myr­iad of choices via on­line book­ies and gam­bling sites, so that ge­nie is well as truly out of the bot­tle,” he said.

“It’s un­likely a re­stricted casino li­cense in Dubbo will add to those prob­lems.”

Know­ing some mem­bers of the community will need fur­ther con­vinc­ing, Cr Ryan said the re­ac­tion to his mo­tion has been pos­i­tive for the most part.

“I have had a few peo­ple con­tact me to say that they just don’t like the idea of it and some of those peo­ple, when I’ve ex­plained it to them, they’ve said ‘ac­tu­ally, I do sup­port that,’ or they will have an­other think about it,” he said.

“I sup­pose what I’m sug­gest­ing to peo­ple is, read the en­tirety of what I’ve writ­ten and then make your mind up, don’t just at­tack it with­out see­ing the bones be­hind it.”

Mayor Ben Shields said he com­mends Cr Ryan on in­ves­ti­gat­ing op­tions that could bring eco­nomic ben­e­fit for our re­gion.

“I think Coun­cil­lor Ryan would agree this is an idea that is re­ally just in its in­fancy and all the pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives have to be ex­plored, hence why he asked for a re­port,” Cr Shields told

“I ex­pect that when some­one came up with the idea to build a zoo in re­gional NSW there were plenty of peo­ple who were scep­ti­cal about that, so I would caution peo­ple not be too quick to dis­miss any idea that could bring ben­e­fits.”

A re­port on ob­tain­ing a re­stricted gam­ing li­cense in

Dubbo for the pur­pose of a casino, sans poker ma­chines, will be pre­pared for con­sid­er­a­tion at the April 2020 meet­ing of Dubbo Re­gional Coun­cil.

There has al­ready been a show of sup­port for and against the mo­tion on so­cial me­dia.

Face­book user Clin­ton Ever­star wrote in part: “This is not a good idea. Please re­con­sider and work on some bet­ter ideas. I’m happy to de­fend the cur­rent coun­cil and treat each de­ci­sion on its merit, but I’m start­ing to un­der­stand why there is so much un­rest in our community.”

Sue Koh ex­pressed con­cerns over in­tro­duc­ing more gam­bling op­tions to the town.

“I agree with tourism and cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ences. I don’t agree that we need to add gam­bling to the long list of ad­dic­tions and men­tal health is­sues al­ready ex­ist­ing in Dubbo,” she wrote.

Mean­while, Steve Hod­der said: “There’s pros and cons to your ideas John, but at least you’ve got some vi­sion, which is what we need,” and War­rick Wheeler wrote: “Not a bad idea.”

What do you think about build­ing a casino in Dubbo? Email feed­back @dub­bopho­tonews.com.au

zHAVE YOUR SAY:

PHOTO: DUBBO PHOTO NEWS/EMY LOU

Cr John Ryan pre­sented his idea for a Dubbo casino to Coun­cil on Mon­day.

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