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ASF and Crown still in talks over $3 billion Gold Coast casino

Thu, Mar 9, 5:19pm by Staff Writer

The much-scrutinised relationship between Gold Coast casino developers ASF and casino operator Crown Resorts is still alive and well, despite troubles for both companies in recent months.

Recent concerns have been raised over ASF’s financial state with auditors casting doubts on the financial viability of its sole shareholder.

An article in The Australian this week reported that the group behind the $3 billion proposal had lost $5.97m in funds between July and December 2016, taking its overall cash to just $6.25m.

The puts in doubt its involvement in the massive project, despite ASF being substantially backed by Chinese government run businesses.

While the state government is yet to approve any proposal, discussions between Crown and ASF over the possible casino licence for the project, which is to be located on The Spit, have been ongoing for some time.

However, Crown’s disastrous past six months which saw at least a dozen of its staff arrested in China, a move which precipitated a 45 drop in VIP revenue, fuelled rumours that it was set to withdraw from negotiations.

Crown is constructing a billion dollar casino in the Sydney suburb of Barangaroo, and with so much uncertainty over the future of the VIP market, another major construction project may put further pressure on the company.

There is also the bizarre situation of James Packer having to deal with a company which has such close ties to the Chinese government, which is responsible for the crackdown which led to the arrest of the Crown staff.

But a source close to negotiations between the two parties said things remain amicable and talks are continuing, while community consultation over the project continues.

“They are still talking about the possibility of being the operator of the facility,” the source told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

“Nothing has been signed by either party. Crown is waiting to see what happens following the consultation phase when things become more concrete.”

Crown, which has casinos in Melbourne and Perth and recently sold down its interests in overseas casinos in Macau and Manila, missed out on the tender to operate the multibillion-dollar Queens Wharf casino development in Brisbane which is under construction.

It is awaiting the Queensland state government’s approval of ASF’s proposal.

“We are still in negotiations and in discussion with Crown and are happy to continue to work with them,” ASF director Louis Chien.

“We have to step through the process with the government the right way to make sure everyone is happy and all parties are satisfied.”

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