After a distinguished career spanning 47 years within the Queensland Government, Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) Executive Director, Mike Sarquis, commenced pre-retirement leave at the start of November. While it is much deserved, the news isn’t without sadness for the many people who have had the pleasure of working with him – myself included.
Over the past 12 months, I appreciated and benefited from Mike’s wealth of knowledge, his strong industry networks, and his wise counsel.
Mike served 26 years in OLGR (and its predecessor organisations), the majority in the capacity of Executive Director. He held the key role of Director Compliance, Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation (QOGR), when the Queensland gaming machine industry was being established in the mid-1990s.
Taking over as Executive Director in 2006, Mike was at the helm as the industry grew and evolved through momentous changes.
Mike’s contribution to regulation in liquor and gaming has earnt him high regard on the national and international stage. Today, OLGR is regarded worldwide as a pacesetter, particularly in gaming regulation.
During his career, Mike held several important roles, including a period as Commissioner for Liquor, Gaming and Fair Trading. He leaves behind a legacy with a string of achievements to his name. A brief selection of these include:
- overseeing the opening of Brisbane’s Treasury Casino in 1995 and the Reef Casino in Cairns in 1996 and working towards the development of the resultant convention centres in those cities
- working on the review and restructuring of the gaming machine regulatory arrangements in 1996, which still underpins the current arrangements
- serving as a founding and long-term member of the Gambling Community Benefit Fund Committee
- overseeing the amalgamation of the Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation and the Liquor Licensing Division in 2008
- overseeing the introduction of major changes to the Liquor Act 1992 in January 2009
- serving a board member and a term as Vice-President of the International Association of Gaming Regulators
- overseeing the consolidation of the gambling benefit funds and the implementation of a new grants system
- representing the Department of Justice and Attorney-General in the whole-of-government project that procured the Queens Wharf Brisbane development.
One of his most notable achievements was being awarded Gaming Regulator of the Year (2018) for Australasia by the International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL) at an event in London in 2019.
I wish to express my sincere thanks to Mike for his many years of service and wish him well as he enjoys more time spent with family and on the green.
Farewell message from Mike Sarquis
This will be my last message to Queensland clubs. After working in the liquor and gaming regulatory space for over 26 years, I have decided the time has come to move on to other things.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working as a regulator in this industry. Over the years, I have seen it grow and prosper into one of Queensland’s most significant industries; although, unfortunately some smaller and regional venues do not appear to be sharing in those benefits.
Aside from the challenges of delivering product and services in a responsible manner to Queenslanders, I believe the immediate challenges facing the industry is the introduction and adoption of technology, and how this will be accommodated within the regulatory framework. What is clear is that there are very capable and innovative people in industry and in Government who will work through those challenges for the benefit of Queensland as a whole.
I would genuinely like to thank those I have worked with – both in the club industry and in Government - for the respect and goodwill they have shown me. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to continue to visit a few clubs, but solely to taste the fruits of your labour.
I would like to wish you all the best during this difficult period. I know it is a resilient industry and once COVID-19 is behind us, I know you will regroup and return to delivering first class hospitality.