If done right, a casino in Dubbo would not only provide an economic boom for the city but would help curb social disadvantage, says mayor Ben Shields.
Councillor John Ryan is pushing for the NSW government to permit a restricted gaming licence for Dubbo to allow a casino. It's part of his plan to attract international visitors to the city.
Under his plan, the casino would be not-for-profit, with the money it generates going back into community projects. It would also contain no poker machines.
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The mayor said he was in favour of the casino, especially as it had no poker machines.
"I particularly like this forward thinking when it comes to how we generate economic activity with the Dubbo region. That's what it's always got to be about. We've always got to be looking at how we can keep our region viable," Cr Shields said.
He compared the casino proposal to that of someone suggesting a zoo be opened in Dubbo more than 40 years ago. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is now the city's biggest tourism attraction.
"If done right, this has the potential to be a great economic boom generator for Dubbo that would employ a lot of people and bring in a hell of a lot of tourists, so I think it's worth chasing. I think it's worth the investigation," Cr Shields said.
Cr Ryan said the casino would be a "hospitality and tourism training ground for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds".
It's a model Cr Shields said had worked in the United States.
"I've been to various parts in America where the casinos are run by Native Americans. They've done a very good job of turning around some social disadvantage in those areas," he said.
The next step is for council investigate the issue further before a report is presented at the April council meeting. Council will also go to the NSW government to request a restricted gaming licence for Dubbo.
"If there's a small chance we can convince government to make something truly fantastic out here in western plains we should do that. We should see if it is possible, we should see if it's viable. We should talk to government and make something happen," Cr Shields said.
Cr Ryan's proposal was given unanimous support at the recent Dubbo Regional Council meeting.
Councillor Kevin Parker was initially against the idea because Dubbo had "enough gambling avenues", but said due to the proposal not having poker machines he had reconsidered.
"I've changed my mind and will support it," he said.
Councillor Greg Mohr said all avenues had to be explored when it came to improving Dubbo's economics and employment.
"As we know employment opportunities in our region are sometimes difficult to hold onto and difficult to manage. With ongoing employment if this casino came into fruition it would be absolutely fantastic. It will highlight our place here on the map," he said.