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LISTEN: GKI casino deals yet to be done with Tower Holdings

9.55am: GREAT Keppel Island's proposed casino developers have had discussions with one of Australia's major gaming operators - but have not entered into any agreements.

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga tabled letters from casino operators Crown and Echo to Queensland Parliament on Wednesday night during a debate on introducing "offshore boutique" casino licences.

The LNP proposal was voted down by the government and crossbench.

During the debate on the motion Ms Lauga said she was in regular contact with resort developers Tower Holdings as well as gaming operators.

Ms Lauga said Tower had confirmed they would begin a scaled back development without a casino.

"Tower Holdings representatives said that if they did not get a casino licence they would start work on a scaled back version of stage one of their planned development. I argue that they need to start that now," she told parliament.

In a letter from Echo Entertainment that Ms Lauga tabled to parliament the gaming developer confirmed they have spoken to Tower but no agreement had been made.

"I can confirm that Echo Entertainment Group has spoken with Tower Holdings, however we have not formed a partnership. No agreement has been discussed or signed by Echo Entertainment Group in the project proposed by Tower Holdings," the letter read.

READ: The Echo letter

A letter from rival casino operators Crown said they had not had discussions with Tower and would not look to develop a Great Keppel Island casino.

"I can also confirm that such an opportunity does not currently fit within our business plans and strategy," the letter from Crown said.

READ: The Crown letter

Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg , who moved the motion, said a small offshore casino licence could benefit not just Great Keppel Island but islands along the coast.

"This will be nowhere near the same magnitude of Crown Casino in Melbourne or our other onshore casinos in Queensland," he said.

"We are talking about a boutique casino licensing opportunity that may not necessarily only benefit the likes of Great Keppel Island but also potentially other places up and down the Queensland coast as well."

8.25AM: A FAR North Queensland based politician has hit out a casino license for Great Keppel Island in parliament.

Craig Crawford, the Member for Barron River (which is next to Cairns), has attacked the push for a casino license on Great Keppel Island as part of the proposed redevelopment.

Listen to Craig's attack here:

5am: POOR transport links and the lack of an international airport are likely to cost Great Keppel Island a casino even if another gaming development falls over.

The Great Keppel Island casino proposal has re-emerged as a political controversy as Queensland Parliament last night was set to vote on an LNP motion to support "offshore boutique casinos" like the proposed one on Great Keppel.

But State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said if an under-development casino fell through the government may consider relocating the licence.

But he said that licence would have to attract international tourists and have access to transport networks.

"The project must contain two elements. Firstly, it must have an operational international airport or an airport that is capable of being readily upgraded to international standard with capacity to process high tourist volumes so the target market is international rather than domestic," he said.

"Secondly, it must have well-established transport networks and have significant existing tourism infrastructure with identified growth potential."

The Great Keppel Island resort currently meets neither of those criteria.

Despite the poor outlook for Great Keppel Island, Dr Lynham said in parliament Rockhampton remained a possibility.

"Mr Speaker, Cairns, Rockhampton, Townsville, Mackay, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts and others could satisfy these threshold criteria and potentially attract a number of overseas tourists needed to sustain an IRD."

Under the Newman government integrated resort development licences were granted to proposed casinos in Cairns, the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Following the statement Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg called on the parliament to set up boutique gaming licences.

"This House calls on the Labor government to adopt the LNP's policy and develop an offshore boutique casino gaming licence policy to encourage investment in job creating developments such as that proposed for Great Keppel Island," Mr Springborg said.

The government was not expected to support the LNP motion last night. - ARM NEWSDESK

Topics:  casino great keppel island parliament politics tourism


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