Inside Asian Gaming celebrates its 16th year in 2021, and since our launch back in 2005 we’ve compiled an enormous library of articles covering the Asian Gaming Industry. In this new regular feature from IAG, each month we will look back at our cover story from exactly 10 years earlier. This month it’s the January 2011 IAG cover story in which we interviewed Larry Mullin, then of Tabcorp’s Star City.
The calendar had just flicked over into 2011, and Larry Mullin, CEO of the Casinos Division of Australian gaming giant Tabcorp, was outlining the company’s grand plans for its four Australian casinos. In a wide ranging interview appearing in Inside Asian Gaming’s January 2011 issue, Mullin explained how Tabcorp was in the midst of an AU$1 billion (US$757 million) transformation of its Sydney flagship, Star City, with another AU$625 million to be spent on upgrades to its three Queensland properties – Treasury Casino & Hotel in Brisbane, Jupiters Hotel & Casino on the Gold Coast and Jupiters Townsville.
Aside from enhancing the company’s non-gaming attractions, with 75% of the spend allocated to restaurants, hotels, nightlife and other entertainment, the idea was to provide a genuine alternative to the world-class IR offerings then-recently launched in Macau and Singapore.
“I think part of the issue with [the Australian] market is it had gotten complacent, more from a product standpoint in the VIP business or the type of business you see in Asia,” Mullen told IAG at the time.
“We haven’t been competitive with the product that we offer to those customers, so even though we’re in a great location here in a city such as Sydney, we just haven’t had the offerings to complement that visit. So now we are going to make sure we offer the international customer the best suite experience in the city, and also give them a VIP experience with the gaming area. We needed to improve all of that so we can compete with places like Macau and Singapore.”
Fast forward 10 years and Australia’s casinos are facing a whole new array of headwinds in the VIP space, but Mullin’s vision continues to evolve. After a demerger from Tabcorp was completed in 2011 to form Echo Entertainment Group, which subsequently changed its name to Star Entertainment Group in 2015, the casino operator has now well and truly challenged long-time rival Crown Resorts for the title of Australia’s leading integrated resort operator.
While Jupiters Townsville was offloaded in 2014, The Star Sydney has emerged as a genuine competitor on the global IR stage, The Star Gold Coast (formerly Jupiters Hotel & Casino) has undergone its own AU$850 million (US$643 million) makeover and Brisbane’s Treasury Casino & Hotel will soon be absorbed by Star’s AU$3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf development as part of a ground-breaking partnership with Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook and Far East Consortium.
Proof that much can change in 10 years!