Aquis Entertainment Chairman Tony Fung has outlined plans to resume talks with the ACT Government this year over a proposed AU$330 million redevelopment of Australia’s Casino Canberra.
Fung told shareholders during the company’s Annual General Meeting last week that redeveloping the casino remained an important part of Aquis’s future, despite having seen talks stall on multiple occasions due to disagreements over the number of slot machines able to be installed.
“We do remain committed to the redevelopment of the property and we believe that the post COVID- 19 recovery in Canberra is the greatest opportunity to do so,” he said.
“We will be holding discussions with the government this year to discuss the conditions in place in relation to the redevelopment and EGM’s and we look forward to the opportunity to deliver to Canberra the kind of world class entertainment precinct that our Capital city deserves and to creating many new employment opportunities and further securing all existing roles within our business.”
Aquis, which purchased Casino Canberra in 2014, submitted its original redevelopment plans in 2015 including 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 since.
Nevertheless, Fung said that redevelopment of the casino “still forms part of our longer-term strategy for growth in Canberra.”
Aquis last week reported a profit of AU$798,201 in 2020, reversing an AU$4 million loss in 2020.