Up and down November for The Star

by William Brown Last Updated
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The Star continues its year of ups and downs, a perfect example of which was its recent efforts for expansion in Sydney and on the Gold Coast.

Casino Aus reports the Sydney Independent Planning Commission recently nixed The Star’s plans to replace a part of its complex there with a larger tower both in height and scope.

Meanwhile, the casino operator looks like it may remain the sole casino on the Gold Coast as it seeks to expand.

Last month, the Star Entertainment Group received its initial approval from the Queensland Government for its Gold Coast expansion.

The proposal for The Star Gold Coast was a “mega masterplan”, complete with an upgraded convention centre and theatre, new towers of apartments and hotels, and many more restaurants, bars and retail shops.

It also includes a plan to renovate, update and add to the Sheraton Grand Mirage that it purchased in 2017.

All in all, the cost of the proposal exceeds $2 billion.

Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and the Far East Consortium International are The Star’s joint venture partners.

Originally, The Star intended to include a second casino in its proposal, but that casino proved to be a sticking point in negotiations with government and tourism officials.

The Star chairman John O’Neill noted that it is more important to the company to support tourism as a whole on the Gold Coast than to oversaturate the market.

He ultimately conceded that the market is too small for that type of gambling expansion.

However, the Queensland Government had been open to competition for The Star.

For more than a year, the tourism sector of the government accepted proposals from at least 10 companies interested in a resort with a casino component.

The threat of competition is now over though, with the Queensland Government officially suspending its process of seeking input on improving the Gold Coast as a global tourism hub.

The Star is Gold Coast’s one and only

The reason is simple – Queensland wants to focus all of its energy on The Star’s proposal.

ABC News reports that Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones confirmed the plan, saying: “The Star has said it wants to make a multi-billion dollar investment into the Gold Coast, and a second integrated resort is not needed to attract more international tourists.”

“We will suspend the current global tourism hub process to fast-track negotiations with The Star so they can put their best foot forward, and we can assess what their true offer is for the Gold Coast,” Ms Jones said.

The Star is currently finalising its proposal, complete with any amendments or updates.

That proposal will then face the scrutiny of a government-appointed advisory panel, which will be comprised of tourism officials and business and community representatives.

The five-member group has been in place since March, but will now facilitate the next set of approvals for the proposal.

More meetings, focus groups and public hearings are likely going forward, as there have been mixed messages about a second casino.

Panel chairman John Witheriff noted that some community groups were strongly opposed to another casino, but the overall numbers showed that only 30 per cent of them actually objected to it.

Most people had no concerns about another casino as long as it was on private land and a part of a larger expansion resort-style project.

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