The Queensland government has announced it will begin direct negotiations with The Star Entertainment Group, the Gold Coast's sole casino operator, to fast-track new tourism infrastructure on the Gold Coast.
The announcement made by tourism minister Kate Jones on Thursday means The Star, and its multi-billion-dollar masterplan, has been given the opportunity to outshine other casino bids on the glitter strip, in exchange for licence exclusivity.
The announcement comes after the state government asked for expressions of interest for a developer to build the area's second casino as part of plans for a global tourism hub, in March this year.
But ASX-listed Star has argued that the Gold Coast market wasn't big enough for two casinos.
Last month The Star offered to pay for the upgrade of the Gold Coast Convention centre and upgrades to its Sheraton Mirage resort, on the condition it operates as the Gold Coast's sole casino operator.
It also has a $2 billion masterplan for five more towers at its major development at Broadbeach.
Jones announced that the Palaszczuk government would start the direct negotiations with the gaming giant to “fast track new tourism infrastructure on the Gold Coast”.
The Star has been issued terms for negotiation with the state government to contractualise the delivery of its Gold Coast master plan and new tourism infrastructure.
The announcement coincides with the release of a community consultation report which calls for new hotels, attractions and convention space to attract more tourists to the region.
The 65-page report follows consultation undertaken by the Gold Coast Tourism Advisory Panel, led by panel chair and businessman John Witheriff.
The panel found the majority of locals were supportive of, or had no concerns about a new casino provided it was delivered as part of an integrated resort.
The report also found there was strong feedback from Gold Coast locals not supportive of a new casino being built on public land.
“Locals expect that another operator would have to acquire their own site.”
Witheriff said the Gold Coast needed new tourism investment to ensure the city kept up with demand.
“Our consultation shows very clearly - new infrastructure is crucial when it comes to growing the Gold Coast tourism industry in the future,” Witheriff said.
“If the Gold Coast is to compete with the likes of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and even Cairns in years to come, private sector investment in tourism infrastructure like this will be very important.”
On Wednesday, an Independent Planning commission refused the Star’s plans for the Ritz-Carlton hotel and apartment tower development to go ahead in Sydney's Pyrmont.