Aquis Entertainment Ltd says it still hopes to proceed with an AU$330 million redevelopment of Australia’s Casino Canberra, despite having thus far failed to reignite discussions with the ACT Government.
Controlled by Hong Kong businessman Tony Fung, Aquis – which purchased Casino Canberra in 2014 – submitted its original redevelopment plans in 2015 which included a request for permission to install up to 500 slot machines. Casino Canberra is not permitted to operate slot machines under current legislation.
The company’s initial bid was rejected in December 2018, with the government describing the proposal as untenable due to ongoing uncertainty surrounding regulation and financing details. Instead, The ACT Government issued a counter offer under which Aquis would be permitted to run 200 slot machines and 60 EGMs subject to certain strict conditions. Aquis has largely balked at the reduced offering in the 18 months since, however Fung has now hinted at revisiting the idea during a Chairman’s address at the company’s AGM this week.
“I continue to believe our proposal for the development of an integrated entertainment precinct in Canberra’s CBD offers the ACT a once in a lifetime tourism infrastructure opportunity,” he said.
“Aquis previously submitted its Detailed Business Plan in relation to a development [but] as reported last year, the ACT Government have ceased dealing with us through the unsolicited bids framework.
“To advance the intended redevelopment, we now need to work with the government through the more flexible and workable Development Approval (DA) process.
“At this point in time, due to the effects of COVID-19 and the effect of the termination of the share sale agreement with Blue Whale Entertainment, we have not advanced our discussions with the government any further than previously reported.
“We remain committed to the redevelopment of the property post-COVID-19 and we can’t wait to get started and deliver to Canberra the kind of world class entertainment precinct an emerging international city deserves.”
If approved, the Casino Canberra redevelopment would include two hotels, high-end dining, bars, cafés and luxury retail.