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Queensland Government on the hunt for regional casino developers

Fri, Nov 4, 3:58pm by Staff Writer

Following the withdrawal of Hong Kong businessman Tony Fung’s multi-billion-dollar Aquis development in Cairns, the Queensland government is sounding out the market for interest in another regional casino/resort.

Queensland Minister of State Development Anthony Lynham told The Australian that up to 12 private groups had made various proposals to the government over the past 18 months.

“My department … has begun preliminary research to determine if there is genuine interest in the marketplace in another ­regional integrated resort development,” Mr Lynham said.

“They have prepared a participant’s package which provides an overview of the opportunity and government parameters.”

Under the previosu state government, Twelve international and local groups competed to operate a future integrated resort at Brisbane’s Queen’s Wharf and a further two regional centres.

The Queen’s Wharf project is well beyond the planning phase with the Hong Kong-based Far East Consortium, together with The Star Entertainment Group and Chow Tai Fook due to start demolition next year for the $3 billion riverside development, which is due for completion in 2022.

ASF is continuing to negotiate with the government over its proposed waterfront Gold Coast site, while Mr Fung’s Aquis were given preferred proponent status in Cairns.

But in August, Aquis bowed out of its already scaled-back $2bn development at Yorkeys Knob.

Other interested parties for the regional licence were Chinese-backed organisations seeking to develop resorts along the coast.

GKI Resort, owned by developer Terry Agnew, proposed a boutique ­casino licence for Great Keppel Island off the coast of central Queensland and have indicated they would be prepared to bid again.

A possible bid from Toowoomba was quickly rebuffed in September.

According to the government criteria, any proposed integrated resort development must be within 70km of a city of more than 150,000 people; be close to an international airport or a facility that can be quickly upgraded to international status; and have well-established transport networks and tourism infrastructure.

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