Plans for second Cairns casino scrapped

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Plans for second Cairns casino scrapped

The prospect of a second casino in the northern Queensland city of Cairns has been knocked on the head with Aquis Entertainment revealing changes in their major development plan for Yorkey’s Knob.

Aquis, led by Hong Kong tycoon Tony Fung, had initially mooted an $8 billion development on the site, which would be an integrated resort and casino.

But the casino concept has gradually lost its lustre, with Mr Fung indicating earlier this year that the casino aspect of the development would be delayed, He has now confirmed to the Courier Mail, that the casino won’t happen at all.

“My original concept was casino-led,” he said. “But the whole casino industry is not the same as it was 26 months ago. It has been six years and lots of time, money and effort on my side, but the market has changed.”

Aquis, who own and operate the Canberra Casino and have been linked with another casino build on the Gold Coast, would now develop a $2bn luxury hotel, apartment and villa complex at Yorkey’s Knob.

It is believed Aquis’ decision to drop the casino as part of the project will expedite planning approval from the site by the state government and Cairns Regional Council.

Cairns’ Reef Hotel Casino is one of four already operating in Queensland, with the others located in Brisbane, Townsville and the Gold Coast.

The former Newman government proposed three new integrated resort developments for Queensland when it was in power and the Queen’s wharf project in Brisbane is already under development by The Star group.

A partnership between the James Packer led Crown Resorts and investment company ASF is the favourite to get the nod for the new development of the Gold Coast, while Cairns was mooted as the third site.

However, the bottom has fallen out of the Asian casino market over the past two years as the Chinese government targets corruption. That has had a major effect on Macau, and a flow on effect to places around the world where Chinese gamblers have traditionally travelled to.

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