James Packer, Chairman of Crown Casino, told federal politicians that Sydney needs a second Casino to attract Asian high rollers who are vital for the long-term future of Australian tourism. He cited the massive Marina Bay Sands Casino in Singapore, which has surpassed Las Vegas to become the world's second biggest gambling centre, after Macau.
"Our international competitors get it and are throwing everything in a coordinated and well-funded strategy to attract more high net-worth travellers and we need to do the same" he said.
NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell has been criticized for giving Packer the green light and bypassing the normal tender procedure. He obviously likes the idea of a $1 billion, 6 star hotel and casino and is charging full steam ahead to make it happen. Mr Packer said it would have been a foregone conclusion if it had gone to tender, because he would have won it anyway.
Even the union has come on board. NSW Secretary of the union who represents hospitality workers Mark Boyd was initially concerned about his members having to work in smokey environments and said "The health standards are clear, there is no safe level of tobacco, that's why it's banned in every other workplace in NSW."
He has since changed his mind and dropped his objection and now believes it's a "commercial necessity" to allow punters to smoke in the VIP gaming rooms. Employees won't be forced to work in them, but failure to do so can damage career prospects.
James Packer thinks we have the wrong idea about China and see them as a scary, Communist nation. "We need to stop viewing China like it's the Cold War and start seeing them as a modern member of the industrialised world - many bureaucrats and business people who have not been to China have no idea of how much it has changed and how much they are doing to lift their people out of poverty."
Maybe he's right.