“On Monday 16 November 2015 the Queensland Government reached contractual close on the $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf Brisbane Integrated Resort Development, representing a key aspect of the final stage of the procurement process, successfully delivered by the Department of State Development.”

The above quote comes straight from Queensland’s Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development. Strangely, though, it never mentions the word “casino.”

Of course, that’s exactly what they’re building. Sure, it may have a world-class resort attached, but who actually visits Vegas or Macau for the hotels and cuisine?

The Official Word

In addition to the opening quote of this article, let’s see what else the Queensland government has to say about the project on their website.

  • The contractor for the project is known as Destination Brisbane Consortium. It’s comprised of Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, Far East Consortium, and The Star Entertainment Group.
  • The project will deliver economic growth to Queensland. During construction, this will manifest as 2,000 jobs. When the site becomes operational in 2022, more than 8,000 jobs will be available.
  • Construction is taking place in the district known as the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane. This is where the city started, and it will soon be transformed into a connecting hub. Adjacent sites include the Brisbane River, Botanic Gardens, Cultural Precinct, Parliamentary Precinct, South Bank, and Queen Street Mall.

The overview section contains 234 words, and not one of them is “casino.” However, there are 14 sub-sections that can be perused, and one of these is labelled “Gaming.”

According to this sub-section, The Star Entertainment Group currently owns the Treasury Hotel and Casino. This facility will continue to operate during the construction phase. However, a new casino will open in 2022 as part of the Integrated Resort Development. At this point, the Treasury Casino will be converted into an upscale retail space.

They also want you to know that the new casino will take up less than 5% of the new development.

A Strange Omission

Throughout the construction process, the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane Integrated Resort Development has managed to avoid the word “casino.” This includes press releases, advertising, and even filings with state and city officials.

The efforts have been so successful that such omissions have even bled over into the government. All of the information above was taken from the Queensland official website. Even when gambling is mentioned, they’re careful to downplay its overall size and impact.

Shifting Focus

Instead of gambling, any discussion of the project chooses to emphasize other areas of interest. For example, more than 2,000 condos will be constructed in the district. There will also be four luxury hotels, plus more than 50 bars and restaurants.

Queens Wharf in Brisbane, Australia

Integrated Resort

In recent years, the phrase “integrated resort” has become popular among certain groups. And by “certain groups,” I mean those who want to open casinos where they might otherwise be unwelcome. It’s worked in Singapore and China, and it looks like it’s also going to work in Australia.

Government Complicity

Of course, it helps when the state government is on board with the project. And why wouldn’t they be? After all, they stand to make $1 billion over the next 15 years by selling the prime riverbank real estate. And, of course, there are also the thousands of new jobs that should give a boost to any ambitious politician.

The Opposition

Not everyone is pleased with this new tactic, though. Anti-gambling advocates aren’t the least bit fooled, and they maintain that the casino is the main feature of the new project. In the words of activist Stephen Mayne, “It’s a joke. It’s clearly a casino.”

The opposition has two main concerns. First, taking the focus away from gambling allows for different marketing strategies. In the long term, this will draw in those who would otherwise avoid a casino. However, their losses at the pokies and blackjack tables will be just as real.

Second, there’s the overall increase in gambling. The original gaming license held by Star allowed for up to 1,632 poker machines. Under their new license, however, that number can rise as high as 2,500. That adds up to nearly an extra 1,000 pokies on the casino floor.

Other Recommended Reading

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