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Western Australia Lifts Casino Cruise Ban

2 March 2011 by admin

western australia cruiseGood news for passengers onboard cruise ships traveling in the Pacific: you will no longer have to stop gambling just because you’re passing through Western Australian waters. The government of Western Australia, a state occupying the western third of the Australian continent, has agreed to modify the restriction.

As part of the previous Casino Agreement between the government and Burswood Casino, any cruise ships passing through the area had to shut down their casino operations once they entered Western Australia waters. That is because casino cruises are banned in Western Australia, as is all gambling on the land except for the casino games at Burswood and the lottery. Even ships that were simply passing through could not run their casino in WA waters because of fear of others using it as a loophole.

Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron said that the original restriction “was more about preventing the so-called ‘cruises to nowhere,’ where the principal aim of the cruise was to sail out behind Rottnest and conduct gaming for two or three days to avoid the state’s tough stance on gaming machines in the community.”

Because of a renewed interest in cruise travel, though, the restriction was hurting tourism. Cruise ships wanted to make stops in Western Australia, but the restriction on gambling was resulting in a decline in business. In order to remove deterrents for legitimate cruises while still banning the “cruises to nowhere,” Waldron and the operators of Burswood Casino came to a compromise. The new agreement allows cruises passing through Western Australia waters to continue their gambling operations, but restrictions were put in place to block the potential loophole.

In the new agreement, in order to allow casino gambling in WA waters, the cruise ship must have a minimum capacity of 100 passengers, must be taking part in a scheduled deepwater cruise and must be coming from overseas or another Australian state. The gambling also must take place at least 12 nautical miles off the coast of Western Australia.

Waldron has informed the cruise ship companies that the changes will take effect immediately, though from a technical standpoint the old agreement is still in effect until the new one is ratified by State Parliament. The change to the agreement will be submitted to the parliament later this year, but in the meantime, the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor will enforce the new rules rather than the old rules.

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