The Queensland government has put an end to negotiations for a global tourism hub and a second casino licence on the Gold Coast.
The city’s sole operator, The Star Entertainment Group had been in exclusive talks with the state government for a monopoly deal, but state development minister Kate Jones on Saturday announced that government had finished its negotiations with The Star.
“Global market conditions are clearly impacting investment at present and I can confirm that this government has no intention of reviving the market process for a new integrated resort— including a second casino— on the Gold Coast,” Jones said.
On talk of plans for a Gold Coast global tourism hub, Jones said the deal did “not stack up for taxpayers”.
“We were not able to reach consensus around the terms for long-term casino licence exclusivity,” she said.
The Star has casino operations in Queensland and New South Wales, including The Treasury casino in Brisbane, and The Star Sydney in Pyrmont.
The announcement comes as a Covid-19 case was traced to Sydney’s Star casino, which was hit with a $5000 fine after breaching coronavirus social-distancing rules.
Last year, The Star offered to pay for the upgrade of the Gold Coast Convention Centre as well as upgrades to its Sheraton Mirage, in exchange for exclusivity as the Gold Coast’s sole casino operator.
Jones said the end of exclusive negotiations— along with the end of the Global Tourism Hub market process — enables the group to move on with its multi-billion-dollar investments in south-east Queensland, including the $2 billion-plus Gold Coast masterplan for five more towers at Broadbeach.
The Star has touted this would generate up to 9000 construction jobs, add an extra 650 hotel rooms and 2000 luxury apartments to the glitter strip by 2038.
In response to the state’s announcement, The Star’s chairman John O’Neill said the company and its partners had committed around $4.5 billion to tourism in south-east Queensland through its investments in Queen's Wharf in Brisbane, the refurbishing of the Gold Coast's The Star Grand hotel, and the Dorsett hotel and apartments currently under construction as “proof” of the group's commitment to creating a tourism and entertainment destination.
The Star’s NSW gaming rooms opened last month, with its Gold Coast location reopening on 3 July as a result of easing Covid-related restrictions in Queensland.
In an announcement to the ASX on Monday, The Star said it is assisting NSW Health with contact tracing after being informed that a patron who visited the Sydney casino on Saturday 4 July—from around 7:30pm to 10:30pm— had returned a positive test for Covid-19.
NSW Health confirmed the case was linked to a cluster of cases at the Crossroads Hotel in Casula in Sydney’s southwest.
Up to 21 cases of Covid-19 have been linked to the cluster at the Crossroads Hotel - with an additional eight cases reported at noon on Monday.
NSW Health is urging anyone who attended the Crossroads Hotel between Friday 3 July and Friday 10 July to self-isolate until 14 days after they were last there, to be tested and watch for symptoms.
Earlier this year, the Star Entertainment Group stood down a majority of its staff in March, suspending 90 per cent— some 8000 workers— as a result of the shutdown measures of all non-essential businesses.
It’s expected that its casino revenue will be down by between 10 to 12 per cent while international borders remain closed.