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MONA’s David Walsh Rejects Casino Deal; Opposes Federal Poker Monopoly Extension

Published on September 21, 2015, 7:51 pm

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

MONA’s owner David Walsh recently rejected a deal which could have let the proposed Monaco casino of the art museum, to move ahead to protect Tasmanian monopoly of Federal Group on poker machines.

A high roller casino is being planned by Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), since it has a huge expansion plan worth $200M. Nevertheless, Federal Group may run casinos as well as pokie venues by the year 2023 in Tasmania. The reason being they have exclusive rights to do so.

Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
Outside vista of the Hobart’s Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)

David Walsh said to the Treasurer of the state that he wished to take out his casino license application unless the already running Federal monopoly legislation considered the same.

Meanwhile, the government and the Federal Group are into discussions over extension of the poker machine related agreement’s life. The aim is to compensate the same for possibly untimely flouting its monopoly on casinos.

Mr. Walsh said that he was probably outdone by Federal Group and he just was not able to agree to the terms. According to him, he never expected the group to use Monaco – the proposed casino, to insist on extending its monopoly. And for the only reason that he could not extend the same, he probably played his part like a beginner.

Walsh added that he certainly wanted to run Monaco. Nonetheless, if the launch of the casino enshrined the poker machine monopoly of Federal Group, he would rather prefer not opening the same before 2023. He requested Federal Group’s head Greg Farrell as a favor to him as well as the community not to extend the monopoly when he opens the casino. Since, he believed that the casino launch would in no way impinge on Wrest Point casino.

His opposition to poker machine monopoly extension was apparent in his blog where he mentioned it as a moral outrage. He said that a few commentators drew attention to the fact that he could be involved in an unlawful activity in extending the monopoly, which was unpleasant when it came to something related to poker machines. Thus, the blog justified his position in regard to these things.

The clear disagreement on the proposed expansion of video poker in the Monaco casino (
The clear disagreement on the proposed expansion of video poker in the Monaco casino (

He affirmed that it was time that he left sooner as possible.

Walsh wrote to Greg Farrell that in no case would he drop his idea to develop the casino. No matter if he gets a license or not. In fact, he doubted the license’s legitimacy by saying that he deemed that with a notable community support, it was likely that a political group went to election holding a Monaco license. Thereby, it could engage the legal risk that might arise due to breach of Federal's monopoly.

Walsh further avowed that the revenue generated would be meant for MONA and other associated projects. Also, if it comes out to be money-making, the revenue would definitely stimulate acquisitions, social programs, and expansion.

Reports said that the proposed expansion of MONA by Walsh was meant for high roller venue only. The same would not entertain Tasmanian gamblers, and won’t have any poker machines while it would remain confined to 12 tables.

The casino proposal includes a hotel with 160 rooms, a 1000-seat theatre, and a function centre, all of which would be supported by the revenue of Monaco. However, if Monaco did not happen, each of the amenities would be smaller.

According to Mr. Walsh, the plan was simple. They would take a risk to acquire some money and spend the same on MONA. Yes, locals might not be permitted to enter the casino, but they would be allowed to access other amenities built on Monaco’s back.  Independent MP Andrew Wilkie applauded him for his plan. He has been protesting against poker machines and supported the idea that the Government must withdraw its agreement with Federal whenever legally possible.

According to Mr. Wilkie, the State governments’ decision had brought the community down in this regard.


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