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Casino Canberra expansion sent for revision by ACT Government

Fri, Dec 14, 10:50am by Staff Writer

Aquis Entertainment, owners of Casino Canberra, have been told to revise its multi-million dollar expansion plans after being unable to progress their current proposal with the ACT government.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr issued a statement on Wednesday stating that the unsolicited bid would not progress in its ‘current form’ citing a lack of financial details provided and conditions imposed on Aquis Entertainment’s proposal.

He added the Aquis had been asked to consider progressing with a smaller redevelopment.

Rejection of plans by ACT government comes three years after submission

The casino has felt discontent with the government’s treatment of its proposed redevelopment since the group’s announcement of a $330 million dollar transformation of the Glebe Park precinct. The redevelopment was set to include a new convention centre, hotels and high end designer shopping.

The rejection of Aquis’ plans has taken place three years after this proposal.

Aquis’ Chief Executive Officer Jessica Mellor provided a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange stating “Aquis continues to believe the the development of an integrated entertainment precinct in Canberra’s CBD offers Canberra and the ACT a once in a lifetime tourism infrastructure opportunity.”

As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, she added “we are pleased that the government has indicated its desire to continue progressing discussions and we look forward to doing so.”

In relation to the Aquis not providing the requisite financial information as part of their proposal, Ms Mellor said that they were unable to do so without the government telling Aquis what it would require in taxes, legislation and license fees.

However, it is understood that the government could not provide this information until the unsolicited bid has progressed through to the next stage.

Pokies restriction to 200 machines a point of contention in proposal

One of the contentious points of the proposal is that Aquis is requesting 500 poker machines in the expanded casino, whilst the current legislative framework has a limit of 200.

The ACT Legislative Assembly stated the redevelopment proposal requires the casino to adopt harm-minimisation measures, including mandatory pre-commitment and $2 maximum bets.

In August, it was announced Ms Mellor had resigned from her post as CEO where she will leave her position in February 2019.

Revenue for the first half of 2018 was at $12,317,421, 3.6% down on the same period last year.

Ms Mellor has been a part of the Aquis group since 2013 and was appointed CEO of Aquis Entertainment in 2016.

Aquis Entertainment specialise in the development and operation of integrated resort projects that concentrate a wide range of tourism-orient attractions into single, large-scale facilities.

Casino Canberra was acquired by Aquis Entertainment in late 2014, where Aquis spent $14 million in refurbishing its facilities.

The redevelopment proposal from Aquis has been pitched for a complete modernisation and upscaling of the casino.

The project, has been planned to be executed in two stages across a five-year development period includes:

  • A new, expanded casino with international standard VIP facilities
  • Six-star luxury villas
  • A five-star hotel
  • Seven new restaurants
  • Day spa and resort pool
  • Luxury retail shopping mall
  • A nightclub and bars
  • Expanded parking and road infrastructure

Aquis Entertainment is an Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) listed company. It’s share price as of yesterday was $0.029. Since November 20, the share price has gone up $0.09, growth of nearly 50%.

It was priced as high $0.210 back in December 2011.

Aquis is steadfast in the economic benefits the expansion will have on the Canberra region and they will need to decide on the best plans to re-submit their proposal in order to receive government approval.


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