Article by Doug Flockhart, CEO Clubs Queensland

Is anyone else feeling like they are the taxi industry five years ago? You can see this looming ride sharing threat, but can’t see a way forward to do anything about it. Well you’re not alone – the threat of new casino license approvals in Queensland is real and with one already awarded in Brisbane, and two still available, the Gold Coast is under siege with the ASF Consortium well advanced in their plans.

The club industry recently commissioned an independent report, which for the first time, outlines the social and economic impacts of the three proposed Integrated Resort Developments (IRDs). Conservatively and alarmingly, 63 community clubs are forecast to experience serious financial risk with an estimated total annual gaming revenue loss of $100 million to casinos.  In addition to this, there is estimated to be a $75 million reduction annually in taxes foregone to the State and community contributions to local communities – whether that be children’s sport, other not for profit community groups, assistance for returned service personnel or much needed social infrastructure. And this is just the club sector! What of hotels, pubs, boutique bars and other hospitality offers that all compete for the same customer?

We know that casinos target local residents with statistics from NSW suggesting this sits around 65%. How then can existing operators compete against a multi-billion dollar project that will be provided approvals, concessions and various opportunities to take patrons from an already saturated market?

I don’t know about you, but when I look around the State, I believe we are already well serviced on the Queensland casino front.  With a population of around 4.7 million, Queensland has four existing casinos and the possibility of another two on the way. Compare this to NSW which has over 7.5 million people and just one casino, and just one more proposed that will only have table games to appeal to the high roller international market.

What we need from hospitality operators, workers, all levels of government and the local community is some pause for reflection and extensive public consultation around whether this State needs any more casinos, let alone a second one on the Gold Coast – which is just a stone’s throw away from an existing one (Jupiters).

As a hospitality sector more broadly, we must find some common goals and work collaboratively to stop this oversized eyesore from proceeding. Our livelihoods are on the line and we have the time and resources to do something about it. Don’t stand still. Don’t sit back and watch it unfold. And don’t become the taxi industry and watch an impending threat take your custom without a strategy, innovation and some serious objection.  Speak up, make your voices count and ensure your offers are the best they can be. Together we can stop future IRDs in Queensland, however we must be united.

To find out more about the impact of casinos on the community, click here to view the full report >>