During the Liberal National Party (LNP) Queensland convention to be held July 10 -12, the Keppel branch will be presenting a proposal to broaden the basis in which casino licenses are granted. The intent is to add a provision so that licenses can be approved on a case-by-case basis.

The motivation for this objective is in creating a conditional “boutique” gaming license in support of privately owned Tower Holdings’ proposed $2 billion resort on Great Keppel Island. Subsidiary GKI Resort Pty Ltd. already owns the leases to about 80% of the island. The current proposal includes a 250-room hotel, 300 apartments, 700 villas, an airstrip, a marina, plus 35-table casino gaming room designed for in-house guests only.

The Sydney, NSW, Australia based company had proposed multiple resort projects in the past, all of which were unsupported due to the “unacceptable impacts to the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef values of the island.” Great Keppel Island, also known as Ganumi Bara, is the largest of eighteen islands in the Keppel Group of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and is known for its year round clear waters and diversity of coral reefs.

Recently, residents have become concerned about creating jobs for young adults and help keep them close to Queensland, and the newest resort proposal has “united both friends and foes” in the small community. Originally Tower Holdings insisted that the resort could be built without a casino license, but has since stated that the project could not be financed without the promise of a casino’s revenue stream.

Keppel branch LNP members have rallied, and opposition party members have broken rank in support of a conditional boutique gaming license for the project.

The resort’s development applications have been approved but Tower Holdings’ chief executive Terry Agnew says that the casino license is needed to attract international financing. “If the government was to provide a boutique gaming license, it would kick-start the project and construction could commence within a few months of obtaining the license.”