The inhabitants of Christmas Island said this week that no matter who wins the Australian federal election, they want the new authorities to reopen the local casino so as to boost the island’s decaying economy. The casino closed in 1998 and six years later, in 2004, the Federal Government stopped an application to reopen it.
During the 90’s decade, Christmas Island enjoyed an economic boom and lots of gamblers from Indonesia flew to the territory. The popularity of the casino was so impressive that some said it was turning over more money than all the casinos on the mainland combined.
However, after the Asian economic crisis, the number of visitors decreased until the casino was forced to close. Ever since, the Island has suffered the devastating effects of losing one of its main sources of profits and its residents have been fighting to get it back.
According to Russell Payne, a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, the closure of the casino has taken its toll on the Indian Ocean territory. “We’ve been doing a study on it and it'd gone past the $AUD200 million mark, that's employment of 300-odd staff, the net effect of having 250 tourists on the island every day and the Commonwealth Government just in a single swipe just denied us of all of that, just guttered the community.”