Going to ground with casino plan
Great potential ... the site at Barangaroo. Photo: Lee Besford
THE redevelopment of Barangaroo has the potential to create a great public space for all Sydneysiders and tourists to enjoy, as well as the chance to restore part of the foreshore of the harbour to a more natural state. So why are we considering allowing even a small part of this land to be redeveloped as a high-rise casino and hotel for the exclusive use of overseas people with more money than sense, the so-called high rollers?
I have a proposal that should please everyone. Barangaroo is a cleared site, so let's dig a big hole and put the proposed casino and hotel underground. The high rollers will not mind at all. They don't visit casinos for the view, gaming tables are in windowless rooms with no hint as to the time of day or weather conditions. Underground rooms are thermally insulted and need minimal energy to control temperature, so an underground casino and hotel is environmentally friendly.
Above the casino and hotel, at ground level, there could be a landscaped public park and native gardens for individuals and families to enjoy, and for tourists interested in exploring the harbour foreshore. All this free above ground activity would happen without disturbing the high rollers toiling away at the gaming tables below.
To make the operation even more efficient, the government could extend the underground train system that links the airport to the city with the casino and hotel, thus allowing international high rollers to move seamlessly from their first-class aircraft cabins onto a private train taking them straight to the casino, where they could start gambling with a minimum of lost time.
Given casinos are built for the sole purpose of taking gamblers' money they must be responsible for creating a degree of negativity about their location. An above ground casino could result in high rollers going away and bad-mouthing Sydney ("Sydney, that's the city where I lost $10 million"). With an underground casino, they would not have any cues to remember where they were when they lost heavily, thus avoiding any bad PR for Sydney.
The hotel section of the underground casino could be themed appropriately as a goldmine. As the mining boom winds back, out-of-work miners could be retrained as croupiers. They would no doubt appreciate working underground in the heart of Sydney rather than at some remote location in the outback. For marketing purposes, I suggest the following name and by-line: "The Crown Bunker Casino and Mine Hotel - Sydney's underground jewel.''
Casinos, let's bury the bloody lot of them!