CANBERRA deserves a first-class casino, new hotels and venues within which to enjoy entertainment and fine dining.
Last week fellow columnist and former MLA Michael Moore wrote that Hong Kong-based Aquis Entertainment bought the Canberra Casino in the knowledge it would not get poker machines and the government should not kowtow to Aquis, dismissing as a “carrot” its plans for a $300 million redevelopment, creating 200 full-time new jobs and 420 ongoing jobs in exchange for 500 poker machines.
I disagree with him. Speak to any of the nearly one per cent of the population affected by problem gambling and they’ll tell you the kind of venue doesn’t matter and this would remain the case even if the casino development was approved.
Problem gambling is a serious social issue, but so is alcohol, tobacco and road carnage. Do we ban grog, ciggies and halt the manufacturing of vehicles? Of course not – we regulate them, and governments receive significant amounts of funding from taxes.
Of course, there is the ridiculous conflict of interest from the Labor Party’s ownership of hundreds of pokies through the various Labor Clubs, which should mean the government is in no position to dictate where residents gamble.
The economic benefits notwithstanding, the capital deserves a better standard of entertainment and the argument we don’t have the population is silly (if that’s the case why is it so hard to find a room during Federal Parliament sitting weeks?).
We are also pushing hard for international flights in and out of Canberra, particularly targeting the Asian market, which could provide an on-going clientele for any decent casino and hotel development.
Many of the callers to my radio program agree and it’s time for Canberra to lose this tired old mentality of “we’re not big enough”.
There’s a sense out there that Canberrans have had enough of the “dinosaurs” preaching to us what we can and can’t have in this town.
If light rail, Uber, IKEA and Containers-on-the-Lake are all a part of Andrew Barr’s vision for Canberra – so, too, should be a new convention centre and a decent casino.
Marcus Paul is the drive announcer on 2CC.