Gee, I wonder if the Sun-Herald’s Alex Mitchell was suggesting anything with the brief item in his Naked Eye column about Premier Dilemma leaving the NSW Casino Control Authority a director and a chairman short since last September. Writes Mitchell:

Why is the chairman’s position so critical? Later this year, Star City’s exclusive 12-year licence to operate the state’s only casino comes to an end and the Government must then decide whether the exclusivity is continued or other operators, such as James Packer’s PBL, are allowed into the NSW gambling market. Naturally a multipage colour spread on the Iemma family in the next edition of the Packer-owned Women’s Weekly is entirely unconnected.

Peter Debnam is offering to sell off NSW Lotteries to the private sector, but a casino licence – or two – would be more to Packer’s taste. Guess it’s a just a shame the Weekly is really a monthly so there won’t be time for a balancing Dumnut family spread before the March election.

But for all PBL’s power, Packer would be taking on a powerful foe in the pubs and clubs when it comes to NSW Labor influence. Another week, another favour for the party’s key sponsors – they were all allowed extended trading to midnight last night and for the next three Sunday night because “watching the cricket with your friends at your local hotel is an Australian tradition”, according to Gaming and Racing Minister Grant McBride.

So is feeding the pokies.

Peter Fray

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