Located in the Darling Downs region of southern Queensland, Toowoomba is open to the idea of casino gaming. After the Aquis departure from a major regional casino and resort development bid, the area would be interested in offering casino gaming if a license were available and private industry would foot the bill.
Developers of the Aquis development, a multi-billion dollar venture located in Yorkeys Knob, declined the regional casino license, so the option to create a casino is still up for grabs. According to The Chronicle, Treasurer Curtis Pitt stated that the government of Toowoomba would be working with industry before they expressions of interest are called. Locations such as Toowoomba have the option to apply for licensing if they are able to meet certain criteria.
The factors that must be met to be able to gain the casino license are having significant capital investment and a commencement date for construction within 18 months of gaining approval. The population of the area must have over 150,000 individuals within a reach of 70 km radius from the center of the city.
The location must also be near an international airport that is operational or one that has the option to be upgraded as well as have transport networks that are well established and have a solid tourism infrastructure.
Paul Antonio, the Mayor of Toowoomba, is not opposed to the idea of a casino coming to his town. Antonio stated that the city would have to have a very solid community discussion on the subject and engage the wider community. The Mayor felt that a gaming venue would be an opportunity to attract external tourism of significant numbers as well as see positive effects on the region.
Antonio stated further that while he does not frequent casino establishments and he sees the addiction that can come from gambling, he also sees how mature communities have the venues and thrive. Antonio stated that he Toowoomba wants to develop tourism in the area then the casino could be an amazing driver.
It seems that residents in the area have mixed reviews on the matter, with around 60% in favor of the venue coming to the area. Some have suggested that Clive Berghofer or the Wagner family become involved.
Reportedly, Dr. Anthony Lynham, the Minister for State Development, has stated that the license did not come available automatically and no decision has been made as to whether the government will be going back to the market or if the license will be a matter for the Cabinet to consider.
Lynham was in Toowoomba this past Friday during the quarterly catch-up of the city and Surat Business Enterprise, meeting with business leaders. During the discussion, many voiced their opinions coming to the conclusion that there are pluses and minuses to having a casino in the region.