Queensland still chasing regional casino

GKI Resort’s Terry Agnew, left, with golfer Greg Norman.

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

Minister for State Development Anthony Lynham told says that up to a dozen private groups have approached the government over the past 18 months with various proposals.

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

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

Under Campbell Newman’s government, 12 international and local groups competed to operate a future integrated resort at Brisbane’s Queen’s Wharf and two ­regional centres.

A consortium comprising Star Entertainment Group, Hong Kong-based Far East Consortium and Chow Tai Fook won the Brisbane tender and is due to start demolition next year for the $3 billion riverside development.

Chinese-backed ASF and Fung’s Aquis were given preferred proponent status for the regional developments.

My department … has begun preliminary research to determine if there is genuine interest in the marketplace in another ­regional integrated resort development

ASF is continuing to negotiate with the government over its proposed waterfront Gold Coast site, but in August Aquis bowed out of its already scaled-back $2 billion development at Yorkeys Knob.

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

Developer Terry Agnew’s GKI Resort proposed a boutique ­casino licence with a Greg Norman-­designed golf course and hotel for Great Keppel Island off the coast of central Queensland.

Agnew says he will consider approaching the government once again for a ­casino licence. “We did it last time, we’ll do it again,” he says.

The government has pointed to criteria that 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.