Australia enjoys one of the most lucrative cruise industries on the planet, and now there’s talk that the West could make itself even more appealing to leading lines. In an effort to modernise the state’s regulations, Tourism Minister Colin Barnett is petitioning to axe restrictions that ban gambling on cruise ships anchored within 12 nautical miles of WA’s coastline. Plus, he’s also keen to get rid of the ban that currently prevents exclusively WA based cruise ships from opening their casinos to passengers.
He explained his motives in a recent interview, maintaining that the opportunity to gamble is an expectation, not an option. “I think if people go on a cruise, they expect there to be a casino, they expect it to be open, and why not?”
More chances to flirt with Lady Luck
For cruise enthusiasts who love to try their luck, it’s an exciting prospect. Of course, should the changes go ahead Barnett will need to secure approval from James Packer’s Crown empire, which currently owns an exclusive right to all casinos within 200km of Perth.
While Barnett does have his sights set on relaxing gambling laws, he is adamant that there won’t be any hoodwinking occurring.
“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,” he warned. “It would have to be a genuine cruise, where the casino is just a regular part of the entertainment offering.”
Cruise operators call on WA to relax laws
As well as making West Australia more appealing to tourists, Barnett has also revealed that he’s under pressure from several major cruise operators. Should the casino restrictions be lifted, WA waters could soon become even more popular with visiting ships, which generated more than $275 million of economic activity for WA last financial year. This is a huge $115 million more than the previous year, with analysts predicting that the figure will rise again in the 2015/16 period.
Will WA cruise ships see dollar signs?
So will the changes go ahead? So far the outlook is positive, with Crown’s chief executive of Australian resorts Barry Felstead asserting that the goliath entertainment group wants what’s best for the state. “Crown has always been a big supporter of anything that’s good for tourism in WA,” he said.
Discover the wonders of WA’s coast
Western Australia is without a doubt one of the southern hemisphere’s most stunning cruise destinations. For more information on how to discover the wonders of WA’s coast, chat to one of our cruise experts at Cruise 1st today.