Tuesday 15. December, 2015

Federal Group Accused of Corporate Blackmail Over Casino Monopoly

Australian ministers have slammed the Federal Group and even accused it of ‘corporate blackmail’ as it prepares to negotiate with the Tasmanian Government over an extension of its casino monopoly deal. The plans for negotiation of the monopoly beyond 2023 come at the same time as the company unveiled its plans for a $70 million refurbishment of the Wrest Point Casino.

Greg Farrell, Chief Executive of the Federal Group cautioned that the refurbishment plans would be put on hold until an agreement could be reached with the Tasmanian Government.

“If the licenses were not renewed, then it would be entirely inappropriate to spend $70-plus million building spaces and developments for casinos that may not exist into the future,” he stated.

A review of the arrangement has been scheduled for 2018, five years before it is due to expire; however, Mr Farrell has said that the group did not want to wait that long.

The group is preparing to begin negotiations at the beginning of the coming year and it has declared that it will have plans ready to submit to Hobart Council within six months of receiving the extension. Building construction is slated to take two and half years.

Many ministers have not been impressed with the pressure that Federal Group is placing on the government to extend the deal with Greens leader Cassy O’Connor going as far as to say that it is “effectively corporate blackmail.”

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie holds a similar view stating, “For the Federal Group to insist that additional investment in Tasmania is contingent upon an extension of their pokies license is nothing less than attempted blackmail, simple as that,” he stated.

Treasurer Peter Gutwein has assured that the Federal Group’s attempts are not working and that the government “won’t be rushing to a decision.”

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