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Sydney Casino Controversy Continues...

It seems like we’ve taken our eye off the simmering casino wars in ,b>Australia, what with all the excitement of the mobile casinos hitting our smartphones, and all the great mobile pokies and Casino Games we’re trying to review. But they’re still there, smouldering away, just waiting for someone to stir up a bit of heat.

And this month is has been Tourism Queensland’s chairman, Don Morris, who has come out in some fairly strong terms against Crown Casinos plans to add a second casino to the Sydney cityscape.

It would be a massive investment – somewhere close to a billion Australian dollars – and if Crown Casino Melbourne is anything to go by, it would be a modern integrated resort to match the very best in the world, drawing in gamblers from throughout Australia and from abroad with quality accommodation, excellent gaming facilities and great entertainment (plus events like the World Series of Poker). But there look to be plenty of obstacles for Crown to overcome before Sydney sees another casino resort.

It boils down (from what we can see) to two competing views about what tourists want from a trip to Australia. Mr. Packer is convinced that the future of tourism in Australia lies with China’s growing middle class, and he sees his casinos as crucial to drawing them (and their money) to these shores.

We’re not sure Mr. Morris really disagrees, but he believes that tourists come to Australia for the unique experience it offers: ‘the clean air and beaches; the uncrowded space; the friendly people with their relaxed, easygoing outdoors lifestyle;the unique quality of life -- and food -- enjoyed by ordinary people; the unspoilt natural environment; the world's oldest indigenous culture; the icons of the Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef; koalas, kangaroos.’

He went on (let’s not pretend the list of good things about a trip to Australia isn’t a long one; we like it here, after all), but he finally came to a point of agreement with Packer. Australia needs to invest in more and better hotels.

Bigger, better hotels, and more of them, not only cater to tourists from overseas, but attract them, too. This is where the casino resorts really come into their own. Each is any number of holidays rolled into one, and the revenue from the casino supports exciting entertainment as well as excellent restaurants and bars.

Wherever the new breed of casino resorts have established themselves in Australia, they have met with success. Australians seem to like tohave a bet, wherever in the country we happen to be.

Just look at the success of the online casinos over the past decade, overcoming initial reservations and some difficult legislation to become a genuinely popular pastime for Australians. The mobile casinos look set to beeven more successful, with Australians adopting both smartphones themselves and the mobile casinos, such as Spin Palace Casino on them in ever greater numbers.

It seems to us (though we are, in fairness, big casino fans) that casinos can be made to work in Australia. Maybe if Mr. Packer wants to build another world-class casino in Sydney we should let him. We might even go along to see whatall the fuss is about (and to place a bet or two, of course...)

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