Hard Rock Plans Large Casino Expansion in Australia’s Gold Coast

The major casino company has set its sights on sunny Gold Coast as part of global expansion push

Florida-headquartered gaming and hospitality company Hard Rock International is eying expansion of its integrated resort business in Australia’s Gold Coast, local news outlet the Gold Coast Bulletin reported over the weekend. Reports about the casino operator’s interest in Queensland’s most popular tourism strip also emerged this summer.

The Gold Coast is currently home to one hotel and casino resort – The Star Entertainment Group’s The Star Gold Coast. The major Australian operator has only recently been given the green light by the Queensland Government to expand its property. The planned expansion included the addition of four towers at the existing resort as well as multiple dining and entertainment options. The Star has said it would invest around A$2 billion into expanding its Gold Coast operation.

While the Australian operator was given the nod to proceed with the expansion of its property, the Queensland Government is yet to approve the widely debated construction of a second integrated resort in the Gold Coast region.

However, it became known that Hard Rock is pushing to be selected as the preferred developer of this second complex. The company operates casinos across its native US market, but is looking to expand internationally. It was picked earlier this year as the preferred bidder for the development of a major integrated resort scheme in the Spanish city of Tarragona and is lobbying actively to expand in the newly legalized Japanese gambling market.

As part of its strategy to grow Queensland’s tourism industry, the state’s government has introduced not long ago the Global Tourism Hub concept, which involves the construction of integrated resorts across the state. The plan aims to attract both national and international investors and to boost Queensland’s A$25-billion tourism industry, which is estimated to be supporting more than 200,000 jobs.

In a letter to the government from earlier this year, Hard Rock has said that it was particularly intrigued by the “holistic model presented by lawmakers and that it was interested in developing an “entertainment-centric” property, the Gold Coast being its preferred location.

Community Reaction to Hard Rock’s Expansion Effort

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Friday during a Gold Coast visit that a second casino in the region is a matter yet to be discussed. However, reports emerged over the weekend that Hard Rock has approached the government and has presented it with a timeline for a A$2-billion integrated resort project.

The reports about Hard Rock’s interest in a Gold Coast development have been met with overwhelmingly negative reaction by local club businesses and many members of Gold Coast communities. Doug Flockhart, CEO of Queensland Clubs, told the Gold Coast Bulletin that a recent research has shown that a second casino on the Coast would have a direct impact on at least 30 local clubs and could even destroy them, and indirect impact on hundreds of clubs around the state.

The state’s community club sector annually contributes A$850 million back to communities and a second casino would affect adversely those contributions, Mr. Flockhart added.

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