Proposed Tower 3: Casino Drive Entrance at The Star Gold Coast.
Proposed Tower 3: Casino Drive Entrance at The Star Gold Coast.

When Coast’s second casino will open

THE Palaszczuk Government is pressing ahead with its plans for a second casino despite last week pledging there will be no extra poker machine licences issued for the Gold Coast.

The government will go to market by year's end for a global tourism hub, due to include the casino.

All potential bidders during informal talks with the Government are being advised about its policy of not increasing the number of poker machines on the Coast.

The decision to go to market will trigger another 12 months of planning as proponents respond to a call for expression of interests and community consultation is launched.

HARD ROCK EMERGES AS NEW PLAYER IN COAST CASINO BATTLE

Hard Rock Cafe is a front-runner for the Gold Coast’s second casino.
Hard Rock Cafe is a front-runner for the Gold Coast’s second casino.

"We will be going to market by the end of the year, at which time we will stipulate what we require in the resort project," a Government insider said.

"It's a system created by the LNP (in government under Campbell Newman) and refined by Labor."

The Gold Bulletin understands the process for the Coast will be similar to that in Cairns where the Government is seeking interest in a proposed $1 billion global tourism hub.

Senior government officers are in talks with up to 11 entities and remain hopeful that towards the end of this year the short-list for Cairns will be reduced to a handful.

CLUBS: OUR POKIES ARE NOT FOR SALE

Queensland Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development and Minister for the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
Queensland Minister for Innovation and Tourism Industry Development and Minister for the Commonwealth Games Kate Jones (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Government sources suggest Cairns is expected to be resolved much quicker than the Coast project.

"Cairns was launched at the start of the year. It will take a year from start to finish. The Gold Coast is a different beast. It will take longer," the government source said.

US-based casino and hotel giant Hard Rock and Caesars Entertainment have emerged as major players chasing the second casino licence on the Glitter Strip.

"Caesars Entertainment continues to explore and evaluate opportunities to expand our brand of entertainment globally, including the Gold Coast," a Caesars Entertainment spokesman said.

JONES - TOURISM HUB WON'T NEED POKIES TO BE A SUCCESS

Caesers is another front-runner for the second casino.
Caesers is another front-runner for the second casino.

"We understand the Gold Coast is a special place, and continue to undertake due diligence to determine how a Caesars presence might add value to the community and the state.

"Caesars is committed to completing its full due diligence once the parameters of the bid process are known. Until that process is complete it would be inappropriate to speculate."

In an email last month to the State Government, city council and Gold Coast tourism leaders, Hard Rock International flagged its plan to bid for the global tourism hub.

The Florida-based company wants to build an "entertainment-centric" development much different to the Coast's sole operator, The Star at Broadbeach.

MINISTER RULES OUT NEW POKIES FOR CASINIO

The Star Gold Coast Masterplan Development
The Star Gold Coast Masterplan Development

Hard Rock had been "actively engaged" with the Government from the beginning of the expressions of interest process, which began two years ago.

Edward Tracy, the company's CEO for Asia Pacific, wrote to the Government and industry leaders: "What intrigues us is the holistic model presented by the Queensland Government for the IRD (integrated resort development) plans.

"They made it clear that they are not setting out to expand the industry in its current form which is in saturation.

"That aligns with Hard Rock's vision as we are not keen to build another property in the mould of the incumbent operators."

GOLD COASTERS PUT $1M INTO POKIES EVERY DAY

Club Boss Doug Flockhart.
Club Boss Doug Flockhart.

The decision to promise that there will be no new poker machines on the Gold Coast means any new operator will need to secure existing licences.

With Clubs Queensland declaring their licences are "not for sale", the new casino operator will have to turn to hotels.

There are 75 hotel operators on the Gold Coast which between them control 2300 poker machines.

Clubs Queensland, which has been critical of the State's approach to the second casino, has demanded a moratorium be placed on any decisions relating to an integrated resort until after Brisbane's Queens Wharf opens in 2020.

'It is just good business sense," Clubs Queensland president Doug Flockhart said.

"The Minister seems to be caught between a rock and a Hard Rock at the moment."

'It's what you'd expect from your local pub'

THE entertainment offerings of prospective casino operator Hard Rock have been blasted by the state's peak clubs body as "what you'd expect from your local pub".

Hard Rock markets itself as a company which "stands among the major gaming operators in the world" and hosts more than 36,000 music events annually across its 24 hotels and 16 casinos.

Entertainers Koo Koo Kanga Roo
Entertainers Koo Koo Kanga Roo

However Clubs Queensland, an opponent of the proposed second Gold Coast casino, have taken aim at the gambling giant, deriding its acts as not being top-level stars.

"Tourism Minister Kate Jones has talked about Hard Rock bringing international performers such as Mariah Carey and Britney Spears to the Gold Coast but a scan of their current suite of resorts reveals pretty quickly that there is virtually no chance of them attracting that level of performer," said Clubs president Doug Flockhart

"There are no headline international acts - although it does have the Magic Mike male strip show, the Australian Pink Floyd Show and Australian entertainer Koo Koo Kanga Roo on their "very very sweaty tour".

"This is hardly the entertainment you'd expect from a global tourism hub" said Mr Flockhart "In fact it is more what you'd expect from your local pub."

Hard Rock's schedule of entertainment in its major venues features a mixture of nostalgia acts and one-off shows from long-time touring entertainers.

Among those who are playing at the Hollywood Florida casino this year are comedian Amy Schumer, Scorpions, Sammy Hagar, Christina Aguilera, Alice in Chains, Marilyn Manson, Brian Wilson and Snow Patrol.

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Hard Rock operates more than 14,000 slot machines across the world.
Hard Rock operates more than 14,000 slot machines across the world.

Across its casinos, Hard Rock offer more than 14,000 slot machines, with its two Florida casinos each having 4000.

Clubs Queensland also took aim at Hard Rock's resort and dining offerings, which it declared to be 'ho-hum'.

At the Hard Rock Vancouver, which has more than 1000 slot machines, a "restaurant" called The Asylum lists its drawcard the Hard Rock cheeseburger.

The only other dining options listed on the website are The Buffet, Neptune Chinese Kitchen, with most mains around $15, Fu Express fast food at around $8 per main course, Chip's Sandwich Shop and Roadies' Burger Bar.

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Christina Aguilera (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for dcp)
Christina Aguilera (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for dcp)

"They are food and beverage packages and cabaret acts. The type of cookie cutter offerings you would find on a cruise ship," Mr Flockhart said.

"It sounds a little to me like a scenario where if Mayor Tom Tate can't get his cruise ships docking on the water he'll just build them on the land.