Asian-led groups win Australian casino bids

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 1:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 1:00am


A Hong Kong billionaire and a Chinese-Australian investment consortium have won bids to build multibillion-dollar mega-casinos in the Australian state of Queensland after other contenders were ruled out by the state government.

Tony Fung Wing-cheung's A$8.15 billion (HK$58.5 billion) Aquis project near Cairns and ASF Consortium's A$7.5 billion Broadwater Marine Project on the Gold Coast would receive gaming licences if environmental, planning and gambling approvals were obtained, Queensland's Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said yesterday.

"The Queensland government has identified that these projects have the greatest capacity to deliver the requirements for an integrated resort development in the regions, particularly the potential to attract inter-state and international tourists as both these centres have international airports," Seeney said.

He added that four other proposals, which included a bid supported by Australian golfing great Greg Norman, needed a "considerable amount of work" before they could meet the criteria outlined by the government.

Fung said last year his Aquis project, a six-star integrated resort, would be a "man-made wonder of the world".

Plans for the Yorkeys Knob project, 13km north of the Great Barrier Reef gateway city of Cairns, include the construction of a casino, nine luxury hotels with 3,750 rooms, and one of the world's largest aquariums.

ASF, a Chinese-Australian investment firm listed on the Australian Securities Exchange which was joined in its bid by two state-owned Chinese firms, said that its Gold Coast proposal included a water-front eco-park and a cruise ship terminal.

Seeney said the casino resorts - two of the biggest non-mining projects in Queensland's history - would create thousands of jobs.

But the proposed development in Yorkeys Knob has been criticised by some residents, who are afraid it could hurt local businesses and threaten the environment, including the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

In a separate process, Echo Entertainment, which runs the only casino in Brisbane, Australian billionaire James Packer's Crown Resorts and a joint venture between Hong Kong's Far East Consortium and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises are among the bidders for the right to build another integrated resort in the Queensland capital.

Crown Resorts won approval from the New South Wales state government last year to build a casino and six-star hotel in Sydney targeting Asian-based high rollers.