Could Dubbo be the new Vegas?
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:
Cr John Ryan presented his idea for a Dubbo casino to Council on Monday.