Thursday 14. April, 2016

WA Looks to Lift Restrictions on Cruise Ship Gambling

Western Australia’s Premier, Colin Barnett, wants to lift restrictions that prevent cruise ships from opening their casinos to passengers if they are within twelve nautical miles of the WA coast. In addition, he wants to allow cruise ships to open their casinos even when they operate only between WA ports.

James Packer’s Crown Resorts hold exclusive rights to operate casinos within 200km of Perth; however in 2011 this was amended to allow cruise ships to operate casinos on board for their passengers if they are 12 nautical miles off the coast. Any changes will require the agreement of Crown.

Barnett, who took on the role of Tourism Minister this month, says that the laws are unique in Australia to WA waters and are outdated.

“What we wouldn’t allow was a sham operation, a ship that just goes out to the back of Rottnest, puts an anchor down and has a casino running,” Barnett insisted.

“It would have to be a genuine cruise where the casino is just a regular part of the entertainment offering. I think if people go on a cruise, they expect there to be a casino, they expect it to be open, and why not?”

Mr Barnett said he has been lobbied by cruise ship operators to lift the bans. Visiting ships bring in $275 million for WA with 43 cruise ships visiting in 2014-15 and 58 expected for 2015-16.

Crown Resorts’ chief executive of Australian resorts Barry Felstead said the company supports tourism in WA as was evidenced when they supported the changes in 2011 and they are interested in hearing the proposal for the latest changes.

Shadow tourism minister Paul Papalia also supports the changes, saying that the Labor government supports moves to expand the cruising industry in Western Australia.


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