Canberra Casino to Get $330m Revamp

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Thursday, September 17th, 2015
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Canberra Casino’s owner is planning a $330 million makeover, including world class gaming, entertainment and retail facilities to give it a “wow” factor.

The redevelopment is expected to lure an extra 700,000 visitors to the region a year.  The integrated casino resort would include VIP and mass gaming facilities, six-star villa accommodation and a five-star hotel.

It would also include cafes, restaurants, bars and a luxury shopping mall.

Aquis Entertainment is in talks with government and community stakeholders in relation to the redevelopment proposal which will include an extension to the National Convention Centre.

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Aquis Entertainment executive director Justin Fung says the current Canberra Casino, which Aquis purchased about a year ago, is a small, local gaming facility lacking a “wow factor”.

“We saw the potential here (Canberra). We saw what Canberra has to offer and, not only that, what it was lacking and how we could fill that void,” Mr Fung said.  He said the casino-resort would aim to attract domestic and international tourists rather than rely on local visitors.

“We have had some economic analysis done on this project that has said we would increase tourism to the region by over 700,000 people a year,” he said.

Mr Fung said Canberra could participate in the growing market of international tourists, especially from Asia, who were seeking to visit several destinations in Australia.

The growth in Asian tourism is already helping to drive casino developments such as Crown Resorts’ luxury hotel and VIP-only casino at Barangaroo in Sydney and Echo Entertainment’s casino-resort project at Queen’s Wharf in Brisbane.

Mr Fung said the gambling facilities at the proposed Canberra casino-resort would include gaming tables and poker machines.

The number of gaming tables and poker machines was under discussion with the ACT government.

However, the goal was not to increase the number of poker machines in the ACT.

Aquis would seek to acquire poker machines through the trading scheme for poker machines that currently exists among the clubs that operate them.

“A lot of the clubs believe that they have too many machines and are looking to sell,” Mr Fung said.

During construction, the proposed casino-resort would generate up to 200 jobs.

Once operational, it would employ about 420 people.

If Aquis Entertainment obtains all the necessary approvals, construction of the redeveloped Canberra Casino is expected to start in 2016.

The redeveloped casino would be operational in 2018.

By Trevor Chappell
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