The government of Queensland is set to announce whether it will allow a second casino license in Brisbane, a decision that pits incumbent Echo Entertainment against rival James Packer’s Crown Resorts.
Echo’s Treasury casino holds the sole license in the state’s largest city and wants to invest in a new facility in a redevelopment district known as the Government Precinct. Crown likewise has been pitching its case for a competing resort casino there.
Historical preservation in the precinct is a sensitive issue, however, and while the government has identified buildings that will be protected, former Australian Heritage Commission Chairman Ken Wiltshire has said casinos mocked Brisbane’s heritage, and has suggested they be shifted to the “concrete jungle” of the city’s South Bank area.
State Development Minister Jeff Seeney has said Wiltshire’s position ranks “foremost” among the government’s considerations.
“We are very much aware of the heritage issues,” he said. “The stage we are at the minute is seeking input from everybody.”
Pending the license decision, Sydney-based Echo says it is ready to start upgrading and expanding its Jupiters casino in Gold Coast, one of three the company operates in Queensland, including the Treasury in Brisbane. Echo also owns the Star casino on Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
Packer, meanwhile, has urged the Queensland government to open up competition in Brisbane and allow another operator in line with the provisional approval Crown has won from the New South Wales government to develop a resort-scale casino to compete with Echo on Darling Harbour.