Mark your calendars, ladies and gentlemen. The government of Tasmania vowed that its policy position on the extension of Federal Group’s exclusive gambling monopoly will be ready by Easter.
Federal Group, which operates the Wrest Point casino, has been enjoying a gambling monopoly in the Australian state of Tasmania for a number of years. Federal Group’s current arrangement with Tasmania will expire in 2023, but the operator has been concerned that the government might change its gambling policy stance and finally allow other players to enter the local market.
On Monday, Treasurer Peter Gutwein announced that the government’s position on the gambling monopoly policy would be announced within six weeks.
Media outlet abc.net.au quoted Gutwein saying, “There will be no secret deals, the government will clarify its position within the next six weeks, and then Tasmanians will have the benefit of an open and transparent process.”
The announcement will be followed by a public consultation, according to the report.
In a statement, Federal Group said it “looks forward to hearing more about the government’s intentions on this issue in the coming weeks.”
In December, Federal Group announced that the Wrest Point complex will be undergoing a $70 million makeover, which will include new dining outlets, more bars and a VIP gaming room to attract international gamblers. In addition, the company also promised to spend another $20 million to develop a luxury hotel in Port Arthur and $10 million to renovate Country Club Tasmania.
Federal Group’s plans, however, were put on hold until the Tasmanian government decides on the future of its gaming license. Federal Group CEO Greg Farrell said it would be “entirely inappropriate” to spend such a huge amount of money if their licenses were not renewed.
But government officials refused to be swayed by what they saw as Federal Group’s efforts to pressure them into “making a quick decision.” Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said, “There is plenty of time to speak and talk with investors about what their future plans may well be.”