Wrest Point Hotel Casino

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Wrest Point Hotel Casino
Wrest Point Hotel Casino.jpg
Wrest Point Hotel Casino
General information
Location Hobart, Tasmania,
Australia Australia
Coordinates 42°54′7″S 147°20′17″E / 42.90194°S 147.33806°E / -42.90194; 147.33806Coordinates: 42°54′7″S 147°20′17″E / 42.90194°S 147.33806°E / -42.90194; 147.33806
Opening 10 February 1973
Management Federal Hotels
Technical details
Floor count 17
Other information
Number of rooms 269
Number of restaurants 5 + 6 bars
Website
Official Site

The Wrest Point Hotel Casino was Australia's first legal casino, opening in the suburb of Sandy Bay in Hobart, Tasmania, on 10 February 1973.

Granting of the casino licence[edit]

The Wrest Point Riviera Hotel, designed by architect Keith Wildman and built by Arthur Drysdale and opened on 5 December 1939, was originally constructed on the site of the current Wrest Point Casino.[1] During World War II the hotel was "booming" and the hotel was sold to Australia's oldest hotel group, Federal Hotels, in March 1956.

In the 1960s, The Federal Group attempted to secure Australia's first casino license. At the time, Tasmania's natural scenery and beauty were not widely known elsewhere, and as a result the state wasn't attracting many tourists. The marketing claim was that a casino could be the draw-card that would kick-start Tasmania's tourism industry.

John Haddad, one of the company's executives at the time, was assigned the role of getting a casino license. He met with then Tasmanian Premier Eric Reece and other state officials.

A state referendum was held to determine the granting of a gambling licence. The polls were very tight, especially since the question in the referendum attempted to minimise the gambling aspect of the development.

Shortly before the referendum was to be held, the Labor party, sensing they had the numbers in the parliament pushed through the legislation to legalise the casino. They did not wait for the results of the vote. When the vote was taken the hotel redevelopment was narrowly passed. Questions have since been raised about how the legislation was passed, with one member of parliament, Kevin Lyons, suspected of accepting bribes over the licence.[2]

Development[edit]

The development of the casino included the construction of the 17-storey hotel tower, with a revolving restaurant, designed by Sir Roy Grounds, a landmark that is nationally identified with Hobart, and the 64-metre dodecagonal prism tower remains the city's tallest building.

After the centre's opening in 1973 (after which it was known as Wrest Point Hotel Casino) the casino provided a catalyst for the nation's casino industry, with 12 additional casinos opening across the country. This included a second Federal Group casino in Tasmania, the Country Club Casino, which opened in Launceston in 1982.

The building has been extended in recent years, including the conference centre which was opened in 1984, and the boardwalk in 1996. In 2015 a 70 million dollar investment was announced, bringing five new dining outlets and more bars, a private VIP gaming room and a complete new contemporary feel across the entire casino.[citation needed]

Controversy[edit]

While initially the hotel was supposed to be an entertainment complex, the casino soon took over much of the hotel; and, while the poker machines were initially not permitted, by executing successful lobbying,[1] they now come to dominate the complex, with over 650 machines.[3]

The owners of the hotel and the poker machines, Federal Hotels, were fined on a number of occasions for poker machines that were not functioning as programmed, and were thus in breach of the law.[4]

In 2017, the building was protected with a heritage listing.[1] While some saw this as significant, the decision "angered local residents and puzzled some experts."[5]

2018 Tasmanian election[edit]

In the 2018 election, the opposition leader, Rebecca White, promised to remove all pokies from pubs and clubs, leaving the two casinos as the only location for pokies in the state, citing the negative health and economic impacts of poker machines.[6] The Federal Group, who own both the casinos and the pokies licences have opposed the policy as have the Liberal government.[7]

Wrest Point Casino at Night

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Hobart's giant 'hair roller' honoured with heritage listing". ABC News. 2017-08-25. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  2. ^ patrickw@themonthly.com.au (2017-03-01). "Tasmania got gamed". The Monthly. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  3. ^ "Best pokies venues in Tasmania". Online Casino Sites. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  4. ^ "Wrest Point Casino fined for allowing faulty poker machine to be played". ABC News. 2015-07-23. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  5. ^ "Questions raised about heritage listing of Hobart's Wrest Point Casino". Commercial Property & Real Estate News. 2017-08-30. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  6. ^ "Pokies out of Tasmanian pubs, clubs by 2023 under Labor promise". ABC News. 2017-12-13. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 
  7. ^ Koziol, Michael (2017-12-13). "Tasmania could become first state to blow up the pokies under Labor plan". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2018-01-28. 

External links[edit]