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24 November 2010

Mildura Jewel Casino: Impossible Dream?, by Greg Tingle - 24th November 2010

Readers, punters, politicians, casino millionaires, billionaires, tourism operators, one and all. You've been asking for more information on the Mildura Jewel Casino proposal from down under in Victoria, Australia, and today we deliver. Media Man and Gambling911 take a ride on the farm tractor and put on the cowboy hat and work boots with this special report...

Dreaming is often encouraged by Australian aboriginal elders, as was re quoted by rocker Bob Geldof on his journey to Australia borrowing from German writer Johann von Goethe..."Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.".

Now some media and gaming analysts, academics and Mildura residents and political types are asking themselves what is dream and what is fantasy, in regard to the celebrated Mildura Jewel Casino proposal.

Local candidate Doug Tonge has slammed an academic report which deems the Jewel casino project an "impossible dream".

PhD student and business lecturer Larry O’Connor presented his review of the proposed Jewel development at a press conference convened by La Trobe University last Thursday

Recently a number of Australian university studies and research papers have come under fire, for appearing bias and being geared to get the result they want, not being entirely based on fact or scientific results, but we will quote the Uni brain anyway, us being good sports and all.

In his study entitled "Gambling with Mildura’s Future," O’Connor said a casino/hotel may be viable but not the full $300-$400 million Jewel proposal...which also included a business convention and entertainment centre.

But pro-casino independent candidate Doug Tonge branded the report a political stunt, and a number of media and gambling analysts tend to agree.

"This is probably the most useless piece of information I have read in considering the pros and cons of the Jewel proposal," Tonge said.

"Mr O’Connor draws a comparative example of the proposed Mildura project and concludes that the venture would be unviable and detrimental to the Mildura community.”

The presentation was chaired by Mallee Family Care executive director Vernon Knight, who welcomed Mr O’Connor’s report as a definitive statement to the merits of the Jewel proposal.

A Media Man spokesperson said "We are certain that the universities negative findings on the Mildura Jewel was a stunt, and we know a thing or two about political stunts, and this reeks of it and something else that comes out of the backside of the cows down there in Mildura. Australian universities have recently being releasing a number of negative based findings on casinos and gambling, so this should come as no surprise".

More political lobbying, reports and community consultation will continues, but when the merry go round stops and the casino development starts is anyone's guess at this stage. If one person in Australia might know if its a green or red light that would be Victorian Premier John Brumby, who has done well for Melbourne's Crown Casino and is largely seen as a very successful premier who gets the job done and also finds the right balance between business and community. We're rooting for you John.

Candidates’ Each Way Bet On Casino; Says National Party...

All of the data used by Mildura accounting academic Larry O’Connor in his report Gambling With Mildura’s Future was sourced from publicly available information material. “The pro-casino Independent candidate claims that I used statistics from Mr O’Connor’s report in the week before it was released,” says Member for Mildura Peter Crisp. “Actually, I’ve been using facts and figures on casino operations for much longer, because they’ve been available in documents produced by the Productivity Commission and in a report produced for the Australasian Casino Association by the Allen Consulting Group. “For example, I said via a news release on October 26 that: “More than 80% of customers of casinos in Australia are drawn from the city/state in which the casino is located, according to a 2009 report to the Australasian Casino Association by the Allen Consulting Group”. “I was making the point that a casino would drag patrons away from local community-owned clubs, which I reiterated throughout the campaign. “The Workers Club made the same point in a full-page advertisement in the Sunraysia Daily in early November. “Had the pro-casino Independent candidate done even a scrap of research he would know that a casino in Mildura would bankrupt a number of existing community-owned clubs.

Report Questioning Casino 'Irrelevant'...

The developer planning to build a casino in Mildura has dismissed an independent report questioning the project's viability. Larry O'Connor from the La Trobe Regional School of Business says even the most generous business modelling cannot support the Jewel Casino, hotel and function centre development. He says a $300 million or $400 million complex cannot generate enough income to sustain it. But developer John Haddad says the viability of the complex is the concern of the investors, the political argument is whether it will be allowed. "It'll be the Parliament that will give the turnkey to the casino, so it's irrelevant (for) this gentlemen, whoever he is, to do this research. The object is for us to build it," he said. Most tourism experts believe the casino proposal will give the region a much needed boost, as its continues to bounce back from the world's financial crisis.

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Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, how did you like our report? Should the Mildura Jewel Casino development start construction, or are more checks and balances required? Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

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