Casino in Toowoomba gets support of mayor, community

UPDATE: Toowoomba could be the next Las Vegas, securing a casino if a licence becomes available and private industry picks up the cheque.

A lucrative regional casino licence was declined by developers of the multi-billion dollar Aquis development at Yorkeys Knob near Cairns.

In speech notes obtained by The Chronicle, Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the government would "be working with industry before expressions of interest are called".

Locations, including Toowoomba, could apply for the licence if it met certain criteria and EOIs are opened.

Criteria included finding significant capital investment and a construction commencement date within 18 months of approval.

Other criteria includes having a population of more than 150,000 people within a 70 km radius from the city centre, nearby to an operational international airport, or able to be upgraded, well-established transport networks and existing tourism infrastructure.

Mayor Paul Antonio said he was not opposed to the idea.

"We would have to have a very solid community discussion on it and engage the wider community," he said.

Cr Antonio said it could be an opportunity to attract "significant external tourism" and have a positive effect on the region.

"I don't frequent casinos and I see the sadness that comes with people addicted to gambling ... but many mature communities do have these venues," he said.

"If we want to develop tourism here, that could be an amazing driver and we've ticked a number of boxes."

Toowoomba has successfully opened both a strip club and brothel in the region, with a casino adding to the entertainment mix.

Residents shared mix reactions to the news, with about 60 per cent of voters in a Chronicle poll in favour, and some suggesting the Wagner family, or Clive Berghofer, may want to get behind the idea.

Minister for State Development Dr Anthony Lynham said the licence did not automatically become available.

Dr Lynham said no decision had been made on whether the government would go back to the market, and that it would be a matter for Cabinet.

Dr Lynham visited Toowoomba on Friday, attending the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise's quarterly catch-up at City Hall to meet with business leaders.

Lifeline Darling Downs and South West Queensland CEO Derek Tuffield said heavy regulation in the gambling sector was part of the measures in place to identify and reduce problem gambling.

Mr Tuffield said he was unsure of the long-term effect of a casino in the region.

"There is no doubt it would have pluses and minuses attached to it," he said.

BREAKING: Toowoomba could be the next site for a casino after a regional integrated ­resort casino licence became available.

The lucrative regional casino licence was abandoned by developers of the multi-billion dollar Aquis development at Yorkeys Knob.

In a speech on Friday, Treasurer Curtis Pitt said this now meant the regional licence was available.

State Government is expected to call for expressions of interest for the regional integrated resort casino licence, with Toowoomba, Townsville and Cairns in the mix for possible locations.

Should Toowoomba get a casino?

This poll ended on 01 October 2016.

Current Results

Yes

58%

No

41%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.



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