Burswood Entertainment Complex

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Burswood Entertainment Complex
The Burswood Entertainment Complex is located on the Swan River near the city of Perth, Western Australia, and is owned by Crown Limited. The complex includes a 24-hour casino, seven restaurants, eight bars, a nightclub, two international hotels (a luxury 5-star InterContinental and a 4-star Holiday Inn), a Convention Centre, Theatre and the Burswood Dome. Burswood Train Station, near the Burswood Dome, provides a public transport link to the Perth CBD.


In 1984, the Western Australian Government proposed at the suggestion of Perth businessman Dallas Dempster that a casino complex be constructed at Burswood Island on the Swan River, 3 km east of the Perth city centre. This was the site of a large landfill facility, which posed difficulties in the proposal, design and construction phases due to the risk of subsidence resulting from decomposition and also the risk of release of effluent into the adjacent river as a result of pile driving for the construction. The winning bidder to build the complex was Tileska Pty Ltd, a joint venture between Dallas Dempster and Genting Berhad, a Malaysian casino operator. At the time, there were allegations by rival bidders of misconduct between Dempster and his friend, Western Australian Premier Brian Burke. This consortium planned a two-stage construction. The first stage was initially expected to cost A$200m, and involved futuristic-looking buildings comprising a 135-table casino, 400-room hotel, 18-hole golf course, convention and exhibition centre, tennis courts, amphitheatre and other amenities, together with a beautification of the Burswood Island area. The second stage of the plan involved the A$100m construction of another hotel on the site, but no time schedule was ever set for this and the second hotel was not constructed until two decades later. The Tileska joint venture took up 60% of the capital in the Burswood Property Trust, which was to own the complex. Genting would run the resort, having experience operating casinos in Malaysia's Genting Highlands. Construction of the resort was approved by the Western Australian Parliament in March 1985. It was hoped that the hotel-casino complex would be ready in time for the 1987 America's Cup race, to be hosted by Perth and construction was to be to a tight schedule in order to achieve that deadline. The Burswood Property Trust was listed on Australian stock exchanges on 30 May 1985. When it opened on 30 December 1985, Burswood Island Casino (as it was then known) was the largest in Australia, and third-largest in the world. It was expected to receive two to three million visitors per year and have an annual gross profit of A$100m. The public interest in the casino proved so much in its early months of operation that it posted a gross profit of A$1 million per day for its first two months, far outstripping expectations. In its early weeks of opening, people were reportedly forced to queue at the entrance for hours as the gaming floor was at its full legal capacity. The Burswood Island Casino was opened several months ahead of schedule, and the other parts of Stage 1 (including the hotel, conference centre, theatre and indoor stadium) remained under construction throughout 1986 and much of 1987. By January 1987, the complex recorded its three millionth visitor. Not sharing in this financial success, the Burswood Property Trust encountered financial difficulties and sold the hotel operations in the under-construction Burswood Island Hotel to Japanese investor Brisney Pty Ltd, a joint venture between investment company Yunan Development Co Ltd and hotel operator Kanematsu Trading Co Ltd. On 28 August 1987, the Burswood Dome indoor sports stadium was opened to the public, and was noted as being by far the largest auditorium in the southern hemisphere. The hotel's opening was delayed by 85 days, largely as a result of inclement weather and industrial disputes. This delay meant that the hotel and conference centre was not available during the early stages of the America's Cup race, necessitating refunds to overseas visitors. Although the 417-room Burswood Island Hotel opened its doors to the public on 4 October 1987, the hotel's management reportedly allowed one of the casino's highest rollers to stay there a day early, during which time he won A$1.4 million, which was believed at the time to be the highest amount ever won by an individual in an Australian casino. The Burswood Convention Centre was opened on 20 November 1987, and on 8 April 1988, the entire Burswood Island complex had its official opening.

The casino was expanded in 1990, and an improved International Room (for high-rolling punters) was unveiled in 1995. 1998 saw the corporatisation of the Burswood Property Trust, and also saw the complete renovation of the Burswood Theatre. In 1999, the management of Burswood undertook an extensive refurbishment program of the hotel rooms, to maintain Burswood's reputation as Perth's best hotel.

In 2000, a $96 million resort renovation and improvement program was undertaken. 2001 and 2002 saw the opening of the Ruby Room nightclub and Champion's Bar, both within the casino, and also the opening of the Grand Ballroom. In 2003, Burswood entered into a deal with land developer Mirvac Fini for the residential development of vacant land between the complex and the Graham Farmer Freeway. Picking up from the long-neglected Stage 2 of the Burswood development plan, in the early 2000s the management of Burswood made various plans to build a second hotel on the site. Eventually, in 2003 they entered into a joint venture deal with the InterContinental Hotels Group to run the existing Burswood Resort Hotel (to be re-branded as Burswood InterContinental Hotel) and a new, 291-room Holiday Inn hotel to be constructed adjacent to the Burswood Theatre. In 2004, PBL acquired full control of the Burswood International Resort Casino, and in 2005 re-branded the site as "Burswood Entertainment Complex". On 1 August 2005, the Holiday Inn Burswood opened for business after 29 months of construction. Construction finished three months early and was A$2 million under budget. The promoters proclaimed that it was "Perth's first purpose-built hotel in more than 12 years". In 2006, Burswood closed its renowned fine-dining Windows Restaurant in order to make way for a newer, expanded VIP room for high rollers. This new facility, called The Pearl Room, opened in late 2006 featuring 180 degree Swan River views. It replaced the old International Room which closed its doors following the unveiling of The Pearl Room. In 2007, Burswood opened The Riviera Room - a new gaming room featuring higher stakes open to the general public. The Riviera Room is located at the site of the old International Room, and has been refurbished to feature a contemporary design. MINQ, an exclusive late night bar, accessible only by a hosted lift at the entrance of The Riviera Room, opened in August 2007. Carbon Sports Bar opened in December 2007 and features a giant 12.5 x 4m wide screen and 16 x 52-inch plasmas. In December 2008, Burswood opened its new world-class dedicated poker room featuring plasma screens, dedicated bar and lounge area. In November 2009, Britney Spears performed 2 shows at the arena for her highly anticipated The Circus Starring Britney Spears tour. The shows at Burswood were Spears' first concerts in Australia. She was originally supposed to perform 5 shows in Australia during her 2004 Onyx Hotel Tour (including one at the Burswood Dome), but the shows were canceled after Spears injured her knee while filming her video "Outrageous". In April 2010 the world renowned musical "Cats" performed the first of many shows over a 3 week period at Burswood Theatre.

The Casino at Burswood Entertainment Complex operates 24 hours, 7 days a week. It is the only casino operator in Perth, Western Australia. There are 1,500 coin operated game machines with a variety of games such as Keno, Video Poker and others involving dice, dominoes and balls. Jackpots are linked to many of these games. The reel-slots popular elsewhere in Australia and the rest of the world, operated with a pull down lever, are not permitted in Western Australia. The table games include Baccarat, Mini Baccarat, Blackjack, Roulette, Poker (Texas Hold'Em, Omaha), Three Card Poker, Casino War, Progressive Texas Hold'Em, Pai Gow, Money Wheel, Sic Bo and Caribbean Stud. The Blackjack tables in the main casino use Continuous Shuffling Machines, but in The Pearl Room most of the Blackjack tables offer hand shuffled 8 deck games dealt from a shoe. All Australian Blackjack games are played without a hole card. Burswood also has the only casino Two-Up ring in Australia, where the players have the option of spinning the coins. The Casino at Burswood Entertainment Complex is a smoke free venue with designated semi-outdoor smoking terraces near most bars. The terraces lead outside but do not allow patrons to exit the premises. Although Perth now has a law that bans smoking inside of all pubs and clubs, the casino implemented this rule long before they were legally obliged to. The Pearl Room (for VIP guests), is the only area inside the casino that allows smoking on and around the gaming floor. To cater for this exception, a state-of-the-art ventilation system was installed during its construction.

Burswood Park
The area surrounding the Casino is known as Burswood Park and is managed by the Burswood Park Board. Originally a rubbish tip from the mid 1940s, the construction of the casino complex also saw the parklands regenerated into a public recreational facility. Today the park contains wildflower displays, a heritage trail with various statues, and the Burswood Park Public Golf Course.

Burswood Dome

The venue
The Burswood Dome is a large enclosed venue, for entertainment, sporting, or special events. The dome is 8,800 square metres in size, with seating for 13,600 people (or 8,000 during tennis matches). The whole arena is pressurised so that the fibreglass roof is suspended 35 m above the ground.

Metallica performed to 45,000 people over 2 nights in October 2010 on their World Magnetic Tour at the Dome. Cliff Richard & The Shadows holds the record for the only act to completely sell out the Dome, with 34,400 in attendance, surpassing the previous record of 18,974, set by Rihanna in 2008 during The Good Girl Gone Bad Tour. Britney Spears currently holds the record for the fastest sell out show recorded at Burswood Dome, in November 2009 she toured Australia on her The Circus Starring Britney Spears World Tour, her 2 Perth shows went on sale 3 months prior and sold out in approx 2.5 mins. In March 2011 Burswood Dome will play host again to Rihanna on her highly acclaimed Last Girl On Earth Tour, unlike her previous visit, the will not be a record breaking show with an expected audience of approx 16, 800 people. In early 2009 Pink played at the burswood dome on her " Funhouse Tour" In 2009, Lady Gaga announced that her tour would be coming to Perth. Originally scheduled for two shows at Challenge Stadium, the critically acclaimed " The Monster Ball Tour" was moved to a single sold out show at Burswood Dome, to be played on 1 April. On 22 June 2011 Kylie Minogue will return to Perth for the first time in 5 years, since her Showgirl Homecoming Tour in 2006, the X tour of 2008 did not perform in Perth in 2008 because of technical reasons. The Les Folies Tour will be the largest stage and concert ever preformed at Burswood dome and there are concerns that the roof will not be able to support the massive staging. Tickets went on sale 15 March and so far 8,000 have been sold, the expected crowd is around 17,500 people. There have been many records set and broken for the largest audience some of these are Kylie Minogue - 12, 800 Gwen Stefani - 15, 700 Christina Aguilera - 16,500 Pink - 17,000 Britney Spears - 18,272 Lady Gaga - 18,349 Rihanna - 18,794 Michael Jackson - 19,000 In 1996, Michael Jackson performed at the Burswood Dome for his last world tour, The HIStory World Tour. He currently holds the record for the largest seated concert when he performed 3 concerts to audiences of 19,000 people, a record that has not been broken for 13 years. It has played host to a range of international and Australian performers and shows including Andrea Bocelli, Anthony Warlow, John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Sarah Brightman, Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Iron Maiden, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Elton John, The Boy From Oz, George Michael, Guns N' Roses, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Green Day, The Wiggles, Bob Dylan, Phil Collins, KISS, Justin Timberlake, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Slash's Snakepit, Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani, Janet Jackson, Kylie Minogue, Pussycat Dolls, Walking With Dinosaurs The Live Experience, Chris Brown, Rihanna, P!nk, Faker, Simon and Garfunkel, WWE and more.

The Burswood Dome is the venue of the Hopman cup, an annual international team tennis tournament, which plays mixed teams on a country by country basis. The Perth Wildcats basketball club have also played occasional games at the Burswood Dome when their regular venue was unavailable. The A-League football (soccer) team Perth Glory considered using the Dome as their home ground during the 2007-08 season.

Future plans
The Burswood Dome was originally due to be demolished after hosting its last contracted Hopman Cup in 2007. Due to the Burswood Peninsula apartments being opened, it was announced the Delta Goodrem concert in July 2005 would be the last concert held at the Dome. The WA government have since come to an agreement to hold 10 concerts a year up till December 2007, and extend the Hopman Cup contract till 2008. This was later extended to 2011, until the completion of Perth Arena.