Queensland Probe of Star Threatens Tourism District Project

Star Entertainment’s Director May Have Misled Shareholders

The newly-launched investigation into The Star in Queensland bears repercussions for the state’s tourism beyond gambling. As Star Entertainment will have to prove its license sustainability while attorney general Shannon Fentiman investigates the property, there are other considerations for Queensland in general.

Tourism to Boost Local Economy, But Casino License Necessary

One such is the development at Queen’s Wharf which started in 2015 and is located on the north bank of the Brisbane River. Queen’s Wharf will rely on a constant flow of tourists and is fit to serve this precise purpose. Beckoning to overseas travelers, the development project is hoping to bring in more people from the region who are willing to come sightseeing and admittedly drop by the local casino.

But this will all hinge on the fact whether a casino is still operational. This is what Dr. Charles Livingstone, a gambling researcher at Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, believes. Even though other regional hubs have tried to divest from the gambling sector, including Macau, tourism is still largely predicated on the availability of a casino nearby.

Should The Star be found unsuitable for holding a license, the whole project may go belly up, or at the very least – face serious financial consequences that would delay the potential return on investment. The Queen’s Wharf is developed by Far East Consortium and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, both operating out of Hong Kong.

There may be some early warnings. New South Wales, which is wrapping up its own survey and will decide on the license suitability in Sydney, may hay have an impact on how Queensland follows suit.

Finding the casino in NSW unsuitable for a license could mean the same happens to the casino licenses in Queensland, meaning the Brisbane and Gold Coast properties will come under fire and potentially shut until some arrangement can be thought of. But there is some good news, too. Provisional licenses like the ones given to Crown in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth are a possible solution as well.

Australia’s Status of Casino Destination Questionable

Outside of these problems, Livingstone believes that the project faces other problems as well. High rollers may not be too eager to fly into Queensland, he cautions. Rather, it will be local gamblers who feed the pokies. According to the professor, casinos have proliferated rapidly across the world and Australia would be hard-pressed to maintain a status as a prime casino destination.

Meanwhile, investigators are setting up what will be the basis of the Queensland investigation. Fentiman has already confirmed that her office took the allegations of money laundering raised by New South Wales very seriously. Meanwhile, investigations involving both AUSTRAC and the Queensland Police Department are ongoing.

Author: Ian Douglas