The government of Western Australia has lifted its longstanding ban on cruise ship casino gambling with immediate effect. The government hopes the new rules will make WA a more attractive destination for cruise companies.
A resurgence in the popularity of cruises means that WA ports like Fremantle and have become regular stops on the itinerary, but the restriction on casino gaming was hampering any potential tourism boom.
Western Australia Tourism, Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia said the government was committed to growing the cruise industry in the state by addressing regulatory and infrastructure issues.
“Cruise shipping is a vital part of WA’s tourism industry, bringing in millions of dollars to the State’s economy annually and creating jobs,” said Western Australia Tourism, Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia.
“The McGowan Government has lifted gaming restrictions and committed to upgrading Fremantle and Geraldton ports and is currently working to resolve other infrastructure issues.”
All Hands on Deck
Under the new rules, cruise ships will be permitted to host casinos in WA waters provided they are at least 12 nautical miles from land. They must also be a scheduled deepwater cruise with minimum capacity of 100 passengers, and be transiting through WA ports from and to locations overseas or interstate.
Gaming may only be offered as an ancillary service, meaning cruise ships which operate solely for the purpose of gambling, or so-called floating casinos,” remain prohibited.
“Under the previous Casino Agreement, cruise ships were required to close down their casino when they entered WA waters,” explained Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron.
“This restriction was more about preventing so called ‘cruises to nowhere’, where the principal aim of the cruise was to sail out behind Rottnest and conduct gaming for two or three days to avoid the State’s tough stance on gaming machines in the community.”
Packer On Board
WA has the toughest restrictions on pokies in Australia. While states like Victoria and NSW rely on poker machines in pubs for large chunks of revenue, they are found nowhere in WA outside James Packer’s Crown Perth in Burswood.
The lifting of the restrictions came after consultation with the Crown Perth, which gave its blessing provided “gambling cruises to nowhere” remained off the menu.
“Burswood Casino has agreed to the restriction being lifted provided gambling cruises to nowhere could still be prevented. This has been achieved by the new agreement,” Waldron said.