Potential Changes to WA Casino Cruise Ban

Australian Casino Cruise Changes

Axed ban won't affect Australian land casinos.

A law which prohibits cruise ships from operating their casinos between Western Australian ports may be lifted, according to a report in The Western Australia.

WA Premier Colin Barnett is seeking to cancel the ban, saying that the restrictions should be scrapped as they are outdated and ineffective.

On the other hand, Barnett still wants to maintain the rule that cruise ships may not run their casinos while in port.

"What we wouldn't allow was a sham operation, a ship that goes out to the back of Rottnest, puts an anchor down and has a casino running," said Barnett.

"It would have to be a genuine cruise, where the casino is just a regular part of the entertainment offering."

Ships with a capacity greater than 100 passengers are allowed to operate casinos.

"I think if people go on a cruise, they expect there to be a casino, they expect it to be open, and why not?" said the premier.

Changes Require Packer's OK

The current law will not be allowed to change without the agreement of casino mogul James Packer whose Crown empire has exclusive rights to operate casinos within 200 km of Perth.

Changes were made to the laws several years ago to allow cruise ships to offer casino entertainment so long as they were 12 nautical miles offshore.

Barnett said that the state would need to reach an agreement with Crown.

"We think that will be possible," he said.

Crown, which supported the changes made in 2011, said that it was keen to see the details of the Premier's plans.

"Crown ha always been a big supporter of anything that good for tourism in WA," said the group's chief executive of Australian resorts, Barry Felstead.

Cruise Operators Lobby Premier

Cruise operators have been lobbying the premier to allow them to offer casino entertainment and Barnett said he was seeking changes in order to "unshackle" their operations.

Ships visiting the state generated $275 million in economic activity last year.