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Packer rejects Gold Coast, but very keen on Japan

Fri, Apr 21, 12:05pm by Staff Writer

James Packer’s Crown Resorts have rejected the partnership offer by the ASF Consortium for the proposed $3 billion casino resort on the Gold Coast. Instead, the company’s efforts are being directed towards building its global empire in Japan.

Packer and his colleagues are in the final stages of the bidding process to build Japan’s first, second and maybe even third integrated resort, following the decision to pull out of Macau, Philippines and the US in recent times.

Crown’s plans centre on a casino in Tokyo, after the Japanese Diet legalised casino gambling last year, but only within newly built resorts.

Yokohama and Osaka are also being considered along with one or two regional areas.

Many in the industry believe that Japan could become the “Mecca” of gambling in Asia with a forecasted annual turnover for Japan to be above $32 billion by 2030. That would put in on target to overtake Macau as the world’s biggest casino market.

The ‘Mecca’ will not come cheap though, resorts in Japan are expected to be the world’s largest and most expensive costing between $US6 billion and $US10 billion, according to broking house CLSA.

At this point, it’s not clear if Crown’s will bid jointly with its former partner – Melco Crown – or go it alone.

Back on the Gold Coast, the ASF Consortium – who is currently in negotiations with the Queensland government to deliver the casino development – suggested this week that Crown was a ‘consortium partner’ in the project.

However, that announcement was quashed when a Crown spokesman said although the company had held discussions with the group, they had no agreement or contract in place.

It’s not a good look for the ASF Group, who has just $6.5 million in equity and recently announced it had lost $92m of the $102m that was raised from investors for this project.

There’s also been a long line of calls to abandon the project, the latest of which is the leader of the One Nation in Queensland – MP Steve Dickson, who says the project — to be built on public land — is inappropriate for the site.

Yet another hurdle for the ASF Consortium to overcome is that the current local plan allows for developments of up to three storeys, and the ASX-listed group plan to build five buildings of about 45 storeys.

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