Aquis resort

The Aquis Resort covers over ten auqare kilometres of cyclone prone floodplain

By Willy Bach

In case some of us have not been watching, gambling casinos are not a sustainable industry.  They are a relic of our profligate past. They are the dream that has turned into a nightmare. In the USA, five casinos have gone bankrupt recently and even Donald Trump’s empire is not immune from this unraveling process.

The demise of gambling in Atlantic City, NJ is a chilling lesson in how governments addicted to gambling revenue are on the road to ruination. What can be done with huge examples of junk architecture that are thirsty for water and power services and perform no productive function? Casinos rate poorly in building community resilience and a more equitable society in which to face an uncertain future of resource depletion and climate change.

It is an industry that depends on the corrupting of politics and public administration. Casino entrepreneurs like to have protection from competition and open slather conditions in which to operate, as shown by the secret deal that protects the Crown Casino profits from the Victorian government’s timid efforts to mitigate the social harm of gambling addiction. Secret deals are an insult to accountability and good governance. They also have the effect of distorting the market for more productive and socially useful industries. Inevitably, we must assume that secret deals are at the heart of NSW and Queensland casino proposals, as these states compete with Victoria in order to attract new casino industry entrants.  The business model inevitably depends on encouraging addiction and predates on people with a propensity for harmful habits, as pointed out by Tim Costello. This is clearly the case with the proposed Aquis Resort near Cairns Cairns, in spite of the blue sky exaggerated claims made by the Hong Kong investors.

Casinos often require special dispensation, special planning permission and/or relaxations of environmental, economic and social constraints. In other words they receive special advantages not available to other businesses. The only way to get this kind of privilege is via political campaign donations and promises of other benefits and/or directorships. State governments that agree to casinos and grant these advantages are then hooked on their share of profits gained at the expense of their constituents.

In order to ensure we elect people who have the public interest at the core of their being we have to discourage those who are in politics for personal gain and sectional interests. In the case of NSW, a government led by someone who exercises poor judgment over a bottle of Grange Hermitage cannot be entrusted with the negotiations for dealing with Australia’s richest man.  Thanks to Independent Senator, Nick Xenophon for standing up and speaking out.

It is also well documented that casinos send their profits off-shore or find other means to minimise he tax they pay, encourage prostitution, various forms of exploitation and money laundering.  Secret banks, secret tax deals, where does it end?  It results in thoroughly compromised and corrupted officials and public figures. It results in the demise of democracy. One has only to look at the political activities of Sheldon Adelson in the USA and Hong Kong to see the excesses this can lead to.