Wed, Aug 7, 4:39am by Kevin Pitstock
Stage one of the Yorkeys Knob mega casino gained approval from the state government. The casino resort is being built by Chinese billionaire Tony Fung. In a decision rendered in early August, the Queensland government agreed to allow the first stage of a $4.2 billion construction project go ahead.
If the full project is completed, the Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort will be the largest gaming complex in Australia. Several obstacles remain before that’s a reality, including an array of economic, social, and environmental concerns. Still, most signs indicate Tony Fung will gain official approval for his dream project.
When completed, the resort is projected to include 343 hectares or 847 acres of land. The resort is expected to include a world class mega casino which Tony Fung claims will be a “man-made wonder”. At present, plans for the gaming floor include 1500 pokies and video poker machines, along with 750 gaming tables.
A Macau-Style Casino in Queensland
The design is going to follow the Macau model of casino building and will be, according to Mr Fung, an international class casino the likes of which Australia has never seen. If the plan comes to fruition, the casino complex could surpass the Crown Melbourne as Australia’s number one casino destination, though the location away from Australia’s largest cities might dictate otherwise.
Included in the complex will be nine hotels, complete with 1,200 rooms and 135 high dollar villas. The Aquis resort is also going to have a first-rate convention centre and concert hall, along with a 25,000-seat sports complex. A commensurate shopping centre complex is also in the works. In all, 10,000 Aussies are expected to be given jobs by the sprawling resort.
The complex is being built in North Queensland near the city of Cairns, which is along the coastline facing the Great Barrier Reef. After it opens in 2018, the Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort is expected to lure VIP gamblers from China and other parts of Asia. With the dropping value of the Australian dollar (down 16% since April 2013), North Queensland is expected to be an attractive gambling destination for overseas tourists.
The opulence of the Yorkeys Knob Casino, along with its nearness to a World Heritage site like the Great Barrier Reef, is expected to lure more than a few Asian high rollers. With an expanding Chinese middle class, tens of millions of Chinese tourists in the coming years are expected to have the cash for foreign vacations, though they might never have had that opportunity before. Aquis should be a prime destination for their visits to Australia.
One Yorkeys Knob resident, Jim Cadman, wondered aloud how such a “ludicrous development could happen in such a pristine environmental area.” Mr Cadman isn’t the only one dumbfounded by the ambition of the project. Queensland residents have expressed concerns about the complex’s impact on the Great Barrier Reef.
Tony Fung, who is from a famous Chinese finance family associated with SHK Finance in Hong Kong, is more than a simple disinterested foreign investor. He’s kept a home in Queensland since 1996, when he began investing in various economic projects in the area. The 61 year old Mr Fung, once nicknamed “The Bad Boy of Stocks” in his native Hong Kong, says the environmental impact will be negligible.
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