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AU A second Brisbane casino would be economic suicide, Echo Entertainment CEO John Redmond says

Property Here - Wednesday, October 23, 2013

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It would be economic suicide to have two casinos in Brisbane and would do little to encourage badly needed tourism into the state, according to the Incumbent gaming operator Echo Entertainment.

In an exclusive interview with The Courier Mail in Sydney Echo Entertainment CEO John Redmond outlined his group's vision for Brisbane and the Gold Coast saying his company was poised to press the button on spending $1.5 billion to upgrade both facilities if it is given state government approval.

""I do not think Brisbane can sustain two casinos. We are not Singapore,'' he said.

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Echo has been working on a large masterplan to have an integrated tourism and leisure resort in Brisbane with restaurants and retail outlets and also wants to spend several hundred million dollars upgrading its Gold Coast property.

Mr Redmond said he was unconcerned about the news that James Packer was keen to enter the Queensland casino market.

""Obviously I do not support it (another casino licence) but I understand that the government is trying to create a competitive tension to drive investment from potential operators,,'' the Echo chief said.

At the same time Echo yesterday revealed it was looking to offload its Townsville Casino for an estimated $75 million.

The group, which owns the Treasury Casino in Brisbane and Jupiters on the Gold Coast, has made no secret of the fact that it was trying to sell Townsville.

It's understood that the buyer may be the Singapore-listed Lasseters International Holdings, operator of Lasseter Hotel Casino at Alice Springs

James Packer, with John Strano from the Department of State Development Infrastructure and Planning, tours Brisbane's gamb

James Packer, with John Strano from the Department of State Development Infrastructure and Planning, tours Brisbane’s gambling precinct.

Chief financial officer Matt Bekier confirmed months back that the group had been in discussions with one international and two domestic buyers about acquiring Townsville which Echo said did not fit in with its east coast gaming offerings.

Mr Redmond agreed with popular concensous that Echo's gaming offering in Queensland were tired and outdated but argued that the Treasury buildings in Brisbane were heritage listed and so could not be fully developed or expanded.

""Probably a casino should never have been created in the Treasury buildings,'' he said.

Echo wants to move its casino further down George Street and use the Treasury buildings for other purposes, most likely expanding its luxury hotel opposite the current casino.

""We are looking at a significant investment in Brisbane and the Gold Coast and we have a first class product to offer Queensland,'' he said.

Mr Redmond said the state government was looking at expressions of interest for a casino and resort development in the next month and Echo had been working on its plans for many months.

""I have been working on this since January and we are designing a world-class facility that will put Brisbane on the international map,'' he said.