Star seeks exclusivity agreement with Queensland government

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Singaporean high roller’s $5m cheque bounces at Gold Coast casino

The Star Entertainment Group is demanding a 30-year casino monopoly on the Gold Coast in formal negotiations with the Queensland government.

The Australian reports that the casino operator wants to lock out big name international rivals that have expressed an interest in building an integrated resort on the Glitter Strip.

Four meetings have been help with state government officials over a possible “exclusivity” deal in exchange for the Star to contractually commit to a proposed $2 billion revamp of its Gold Coast casino, convention centre and hotel operations.

The Star is urging the Queensland government to abandon a proposal to issue a second casino licence as part of a global tourism hub, that has attracted formal interest from Hard Rock International, Hong Kong casino tycoon Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts and the Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group.

The group has won the support of the United Voice union, which represents casino workers, after it is understood to have struck a new industrial deal with the casino on the Gold Coast and at its Brisbane casino.

In November, Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones announced the state government would enter into “direct negotiations” with Star in a bid to fast track new tourism infrastructure and to “contractualise the delivery” of its $2 billion masterplan for the Gold Coast.

Star has publicly warned it needs “exclusivity” for its Gold Coast licence to go ahead with its master plan.

Government is pushing back

Sources said Star had repeatedly demanded a 30-year guaranteed monopoly on the Gold Coast, but the government is “pushing back” on the proposed arrangement.

Last month, Ms Jones said she had hopes a decision would be made before Christmas, but it is now believed negotiations will continue into the new year.

“The formal process being used for the Star Entertainment Group negotiations are in line with the state government’s exclusive negotiating framework under the Department of State Development,” Ms Jones said in a statement.

“I can confirm that probity auditors O’Connor Marsden and Associates have been engaged to ensure the required accountability standards are met for the negotiations.”

Ms Jones said she had had no discussions with any union leader about mooted enterprise bargaining agreements related to the casino.

Earlier this month, The Australian revealed that Star had held at least three Labor fundraisers at The Star casino before laws banning developers came into effect.

Star is building the Queens Wharf casino development in Brisbane and is deemed a developer.

The casino operator also gave sporting tickets and accommodation to almost half of the state government’s cabinet, in the past few years.

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