The Sunshine Coast is ready for a casino, says Bill Jaspers.
The Sunshine Coast is ready for a casino, says Bill Jaspers. Heather Ainsworth

Coast casino would worsen violence, crime, drugs: experts

EXISTING Sunshine Coast community problems with gambling, domestic violence, crime and drug and alcohol abuse would be worsened by having another source of gambling according to experts.

More than 250 people turned out for a Kawana forum last night to signal strong opposition to any plans for a casino in the new Maroochydore CBD or any other part of the region.

Former Queensland Police Superintendent Chris Sang, who served for 37 years in CIB, homicide, drug and armed robbery divisions questioned why anyone would consider a casino given the statistics that showed gambling simply added to a bunch of issues.

Mr Sang, of Maleny, said the workload for mental health and drug and alcohol agencies would increase with more demand.

"The chances of winning are negligible," he said. "There are no winners.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, who didn't attend the forum, organised by Federal Fisher MP Andrew Wallace, because he didn't like the format, has backed a casino as a means of raising funds for a convention/entertainment centre.

Mr Wallace said last night a petition he launched four months ago had attracted more than 6300 signatures.

He told the meeting it was clear the State Government and the local authority had been courting Malaysian gambling conglomerate Nagacorp which visited the Sunshine Coast three times last year.

Mr Wallace asked why a community would want to give up its natural point of difference and be forced to compete directly with Brisbane and the Gold Coast for an activity that would encourage organised crime and money laundering while increasing domestic violence and crime rates.

"I don't like pokies in RSLs and surf clubs but the money goes locally," he said.

Keynote speaker Dr Charles Livingstone, senior lecturer at Monash University's School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine said casinos were concentrations of misery.

"They're not happy places," he said.

Dr Livingstone said Australians already lost $24 billion annually with turnover ten times that amount.

He said casinos weren't tourism draw cards and would not result in people flying half way across the world to gamble on the Sunshine Coast. In regional centres up to 80 per cent of casino revenue came from poker machines.

"They cannibalise existing business," Dr Livingstone said. "If you really want to change a community irrevocably, build a casino in the middle of town. We don't need any more opportunities to gamble. They destroy communities."

He said the Coast already had 70 venues and 3000 electronic gaming machines with gamblers losing $150m a year.


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