The Wrest Point casino in the state of Tasmania is the oldest casino in Australia and also the only casino to legally operate in the state. Owned by the Federal Group, the casino has enjoyed a gambling monopoly for a number of years but has been concerned that the Tasmanian government might change its gambling policy and allow new casinos to enter the market.
The exclusive contract that the Federal Group has with the Tasmanian government is set to expire in 2018 and the company has been pushing the government to shed more light on its plans for the gambling industry. The CEO of the Federal Group has promised to spend $70 million to give the Wrest Point casino a major makeover, provided the government was willing to confirm at the earliest that it will extend the exclusive agreement it had with the Group.
In December 2015, Treasurer Peter Gutwein stated that the government will not allow the Federal Group to pressurize it in to making a quick decision by using a $70 million contract as leverage and stated that the Tasmanian government will analyze market conditions before making a final decision.
Gutwein recently stated that the government will confirm its policy on Tasmania’s gambling industry before the Easter holidays this year. In a statement, Gutwein said “We have advice before us, 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 government will pay particular attention to the feedback it receives from its Treasury division as the Federal Group is responsible for generating a significant amount of revenue as it controls all the pokie machines in the state. There has been pressure imposed by the states Hospitality Association who want the government to break the exclusivity contract and allow other clubs and providers to be able to offer their patrons access to pokie machines.
When the state government granted full monopoly of the gambling market in Tasmania, the state government was in a position where it needed a consistent stream of revenue to be generated that could be used to develop and implement a number of programs that would help Tasmania. Market conditions have changed significantly over the years and there are a number of providers who would now like to enter the market and develop new establishments in Tasmania.
The government has given no indication so far as to which side it will lean in making this decision. The Federal Group released a statement which said that they were looking forward to getting more information in the weeks to come and find out what the government’s final decision would turn out to be.