The government of Tasmania sees no problem opening two more casinos in the island state.
That would potentially bring the total number of casinos in Tasmania to four, and deal a blow to the Federal Group, which has been enjoying a gambling monopoly in the Australian state for a number of years.
For 30 years, the Federal Group has held exclusive rights to operate casinos, pokies and Keno throughout the state. But the current deal is set to expire in 2023, prompting the company to seek for an early extension with a promise of investing a total of $100 million in building upgrades.
The government, however, has other plans.
According to news outlet news.com.au, Treasurer Peter Gutwein recently revealed that the Liberal administration will “allow extra non-residential casino licenses at each end of the state.”
“The government’s position is that limited new high roller, non-residential casino licenses should be available in Tasmania in addition to the Federal Group’s two casinos,” Gutwein said, according to the report.
A new state license is due by 2019, but negotiations are already underway. One of the licenses is expected to be given to David Walsh, who operates the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona). Gutwein was quoted by the news outlet saying: “The opportunity to apply for such a license should be afforded to Mr. Walsh, given he initially came forward with a proposal in respect of financially supporting the Mona museum.”
Walsh has been planning a high-rollers casino alongside his museum, with profits from the “pokies-free casino” going to the gallery’s fund.
One of the key elements of the casino license negotiations in the state will be poker machines. There are currently 3,530 pokies across Tasmania, and Gutwein said “the rights to operate these machines post 2023 will be allocated and priced by a market-based mechanism, such as a tender.”
Walsh, a gambler himself, promised his casino—dubbed the Monaco—would be free of poker machines.
“I want to build a casino with the following limitations: no Tasmanian gamblers; 12 tables and no poker machines; high minimums and maximums; and di I say no pokies? All revenue would go to Mona and related projects,” Walsh wrote in a blog post.