Thu, Jul 6, 8:50am by Staff Writer
American casino titan Caesars Entertainment is actively exploring the Gold Coast as a potential site for the company’s first foray into the Australian market.
Per reporting by the Gold Coast Bulletin published July 1, Steven Tight – who serves as President of international development for Caesars Entertainment – visited the Southport Spit site that Queensland’s government has previously approved for an integrated casino resort project.
Tight confirmed his visit to the paper, revealing that his initial visit to Queensland took place several weeks prior:
“We are currently doing our internal feasibility study on whether another large-scale integrated resort could be supported in the Gold Coast market.
All I can say at this point is Caesars Entertainment continues to evaluate opportunities throughout the region to expand our network of world-class properties.”
During the trip Tight convened with Paul Donovan, chairman of the Gold Coast Tourism Board, to discuss Queensland’s ongoing planning process for the long-awaited integrated casino resort location.
Speaking with the Gold Coast Bulletin, Donovan stated that the talks were productive, while offering praise for Caesars Entertainment as a global casino industry leader:
“It would be great to get someone of that ilk involved with the Gold Coast.
It’s the holiday destination of choice in Australia and anything that brings that entertainment aspect and can add more value, we would have to be in sync with.”
Originally based in Las Vegas, where the iconic Caesars Palace casino has stood for 50 years, Caesars Entertainment has flourished into a worldwide enterprise that bills itself the world’s most “geographically diversified casino-entertainment company.”
And while most of the company’s venues are located in the United States, over 50 Caesars Entertainment properties can be found in six countries – including the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Egypt, and China.
Queensland government officials have named the ASF Consortium as their preferred partner for the proposed integrated casino resort. ASF Consortium is comprised of ASF Group – which is listed on Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) but is backed by Chinese investors – along with the state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC).
The ASF Consortium has submitted a proposal for a $3 billion project on the Southport Spit, including five separate 45-storey hotel and apartment towers, restaurants and retail space, and of course, a luxury casino.
However, reports by The Australian and other major news outlets have emerged in recent months which strongly suggest that ASF Group lacks the financial wherewithal to complete such an ambitious build.
According to an article published by the The Australian in May of this year, ASF Group has just $6.25 million in available equity on hand, while upwards of $92 million from an initial $102 million investment stake has already been burned.
Such instability would explain Caesars Entertainment’s sudden interest in the Gold Coast region, but the ASF Consortium’s director Louis Chien spoke to The Courier Mail to address the issue directly:
“ASF Consortium has been in ongoing discussions with a number of world-class operators. They are one of many. The heightened interest further validates the Queensland Government’s Integrated Resort Development process and our own research, that there is a market for another casino, especially an integrated resort which has grown the tourism pie in other similar locations.”
Further complicating matters, Queensland’s state development minister Anthony Lynham told The Courier Mail that a second integrated casino resort may be in the cards:
“If the market sounding findings demonstrate notable interest, we will go to the market before the end of the year.”
That revelation comes despite a growing opposition to the Southport Spit proposal, led by community members concerned over accelerated growth affecting the Gold Coast area.
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