Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crown Casino deal could be blocked - Fairfax - 14th May 2009

A controversial deal by Victoria's government to expand Crown Casino could be blocked when it reaches parliament.

The deal, announced earlier this week, will allow Crown to expand its gaming area by introducing 150 new gaming tables, in return for paying increased taxes.

It has provoked outrage from the opposition and gambling opponents, who say the arrangement was hatched in secret and will contribute to problem gambling.

Opposition gaming spokesman Michael O'Brien said it was a realistic option for the Coalition to block the bill.

"We will use the parliamentary process to use the scrutiny that (Premier) John Brumby's tried to avoid and to engage in the consultation that John Brumby's refused to do."

The deal must go through parliament because the tax rates the casino pays and the site it is on comes under a legislative agreement between Crown and the state government.

Mr O'Brien said the Coalition had no confidence in the deal.

"At this stage, every option is on the table from the Coalition's perspective," Mr O'Brien told reporters.

"This is a deal concocted in secret, leaked out on budget day because the government is embarrassed by it."

Victorian Greens MP Greg Barber said the bill had no "guarantee of passage".

Earlier, Mr Brumby defended the bill, saying it was "good public policy".

He refused to say whether cabinet had ratified the bill but denied claims he had discussed the commercial negotiations with Crown executive chairman James Packer.

Media Man Australia Profiles

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