Casino idea on cards for Noosa

A BOUTIQUE casino has been put forward as an answer to Noosa's economic woes.

But the suggestion by former chamber of commerce president Jeff Nuske has already met with revolt in the tourist centre.

Mr Nuske, who recently raised concerns that the Noosa area was struggling to survive the tough economic times, said a casino would attract tourists and create quality entertainment in the region.

But Hastings St Association president Jim Berardo described the proposal as “revolting and disgusting”.

Mr Nuske, a Noosa resident of 24 years, believes the area has the image and status for a casino, which would draw cashed-up international visitors regardless of any economic downturn.

He said the number of poker machines should be restricted and it should focus on blackjack and roulette, among others, as well as “high quality” entertainment.

The most logical building to host the casino would be the Sheraton Hotel on Hastings St.

Mr Nuske said the casino would be “sympathetic with our town plan”, “environmentally neutral”, and “require no new buildings”.

It would provide a way of attracting high-value tourists “who can accommodate the high Australian dollar, have a high disposable income and be prepared to pay for the high standards of service, accommodation, goods and experiences that Noosa has on offer”.

While there is already some support for the idea, Mr Berardo was vehemently opposed.

“Never while I'm breathing will I ever support a casino on the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

“Never ever, ever.”

Mr Berardo said a nation-wide gambling problem was evidence that a casino would not be a constructive addition to Noosa.

Instead he said businesses should look at “doing what we do better” to attract people to Noosa and convince them to return.

Chamber of commerce president Carl Beck was also opposed. He pointed to Cairns, where the economy was still struggling despite the city being home to a casino.

Mr Beck, whose background is in the hotel industry, said there was no quick fix to the economic dramas faced by the region because of the drop in tourist numbers.

“It's a waiting game,” he said.

“And trying to do that (start a boutique casino) could be, in my thoughts, a bad scenario in the future where you could create a situation that maybe you didn't want.”

But chamber of commerce secretary John Murt said he thought a boutique casino was a “fantastic idea” for Noosa.

“We would need something and I think it would work extremely well,'' he said.



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