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Closure of Casino prompts Minister's intervention

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M e d i a

R e l e a s eTHE HON ALEX SOMLYAY MR Minister for Regional Development, Territories ami lxxal (iovernment C L O S U R E O F C A S I N O P R O M P T S M I N I S T E R ' S


Reports from the Christmas Island community that the Christmas Island hotel and casino may dose have prompted the Intervention of the Territories Minister, Alex Somlyay.

Residents of Christmas Island have written to the Minister to express their alarm at the Resort’s decision to scale down its operations. Concerns had also been raised that the Resort's closure was imminent. Residents attributed the Resort's current difficulties to the cessation of direct flights between Christmas Island and Indonesia.

Mr Somlyay said that Australian authorities, including Foreign Affairs and my department of Transport and Regional Development have been working closely with Indonesian authorities for several months to find an arrangement which would permit air services between the Island and Indonesia to resume.

“The Christmas Island casino remains an important part of the Territory, not the least because of its potential to contribute to the Island's economy and future development" Mr Somlyay said.

"Obviously any decision by the casino licensee on the future of the Resort is a commercial decision for the company. I retain a clear preference for the resort and casino to remain open given the reliance of the Christmas Island community on the resort facility.”

The Commonwealth had recently written to Christmas Island Resort seeking its agreement to extend the current appointment of the casino's Administrator of casino operations. At the Resort's request, the previous Minister responsible for Christmas Island appointed an Independent Administrator to conduct gaming operations at the Christmas Island casino on 7 May 1997. The Administrator is Casino Management International Rty Ltd (CMI) - an Australian company

“As Minister I was keen to consider an extension of these arrangements," said Mr Somlyay.

However, as Mr Somlyay explained, "without support from Christmas Island Resort, I cannot extend the Administrator s appointment.’’

On Wednesday the Minister contacted Christmas Island Resort’s directors to discuss the Resort’s future and the concerns raised by the Territory residents

“I have sought urgent advice from Christmas Island Resort's owners as to their Intentions before considering my options. In assessing those options, a key consideration will be the requirement to protect the interests of the Territory’s community and the integrity of gaming in the Christmas island casino." the Minister said.

The Minister noted in this regard that, on Wednesday, Christmas Island Resort's directors have given him "an unambiguous guarantee that all the Resort’s obligations, including the payment of staff and creditors, would continue to be honoured despite any current difficulties.'

‘ I expect the casino licensee's advice before the end of the week."

"At present, the ball remains very much in the licensee's court on this issue". Mr Somlyay said.

Ends 23 April 1997

Contact: Graeme Hallett, Minister's Office (02) 6277 7060

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