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Luxury

Saturday, Jul 5, 2014

Luxury

Australia - new casino hot spot

The Straits Times | Saturday, Jul 5, 2014

COMING UP: A jogger passes the site of Australian mogul James Packer's luxury casino complex in Sydney.

Australia is emerging as the latest hot spot for casino operators as they look to attract Asia's high rollers to the gaming tables.

With a mining boom slowing, the prospect of thousands of new jobs and billions in tourist dollars have convinced states like Queensland and New South Wales to back four new casinos, despite fears over their potential environmental and social impacts, reported AFP.

The resorts are at various stages of planning, with Queensland, already a popular destination, the main focus of a charge spearheaded by Australian mogul James Packer and Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung.

WIN-WIN

Mr David Wiadrowski, head of Australian Entertainment and Media at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said Asians liked to gamble and the latest plans were a win-win for state governments.

"For governments, rightly or wrongly, these integrated resorts are an attractive proposition because they create employment opportunities and tax dollars, which they can then put back into the community," he said.

Australia already has more than a dozen casinos, although not on the same scale as the proposed projects.

In May, Mr Fung won a gaming licence for his huge A$8.2 billion (S$9.6 billion) Aquis resort near Cairns, a city in Queensland.

It is being touted as the largest investment in tourism infrastructure in Australia's history, with eight hotels, a championship golf course and one of the world's biggest aquariums.

When it opens in 2018, it will employ 20,000 people and boost Queensland's economy by A$1.4 billion a year, according to Mr Fung.

At the same time, Chinese-Australian investment consortium ASF was granted a licence for its A$7.5 billion Broadwater Marine Project on the state's Gold Coast.

Separately, Echo Entertainment, which runs the only casino in Brisbane, Packer's Crown and a Hong Kong consortium have bid for the right to build another integrated resort in the Queensland capital.

It all comes with Mr Packer, who runs a worldwide gambling empire, planning to open a six-star hotel and luxury casino complex in a prime location on Sydney Harbour in 2019.

"We believe that Crown Sydney will help attract Asian high-net worth travellers to Sydney, in particular from China, creating economic growth, extra taxes and over 1,200 jobs for the people of New South Wales," he said.


This article was first published on July 3, 2014.
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