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Tony Fung Drops $8 Billion Plan to Build a Casino Resort in Cairns
- August 22, 2016 By Oliver Young -
Hong Kong Billionaire Tony Fung has abandoned his six-year plan of building the Aquis casino resort in the vicinity of Cairns, a famous holiday destination located in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The resort was to include a casino, eight hotels, and its own dedicated island, with a final price-tag of $8.15 billion.
Fung’s Australian company, Aquis Entertainment, already hinted this year that the development process will come in stages, while the casino was for then being put on hold. But a change of heart pushed the billionaire to issue a statement that they would no longer be applying for a casino license but will pursue building the resort without a gaming venue instead.
A Change in Plans
The Cairns integrated casino resort was projected to attract million visitors a year, provide thousands of jobs and revive the area’s economy, yet the recent trends in the gaming industry made the billionaire change his mind and continue with a different development plan.
The billionaire told the Courier Mail that he believes the casino industry has changed and wasn’t in the same place as it was “26 months ago”. He added that the entire project has spanned over six years and involved substantial finances and effort from his side, but the industry’s “nose dive” has steered the company to pursuing a different path right now.
The Aquis casino resort was primarily conceived as a convenient location for Asian players, especially after the steep decline of the Asian gaming market that came as a result of the Chinese government’s initiative to put a stop to money laundering activities occurring through the Macau gambling market once and for all. And even though the Macau collapse initially brought major profits for the Australian gaming market, the Honk Kong tycoon felt that the “market has changed” and a casino resort was no longer in their scope of interests.
Fung Opens the Door for Other Bidders
Aquis Entertainment is now planning to build a $2 billion resort on the same site where the integrated resort was planned that would include a luxury hotel and residential complex with apartments and villas. Mr. Fung stated that they were now negotiating with the Cairns Regional Council and State Government to get approval for their new development plans. The Mayor of Cairns responded to this change of plans by saying that even though the original plan failed, the $2 billion project was still going to be a game-changer for the city, and they will do everything it takes to see the project off the ground “at breakneck speed”.
Following Fung’s withdrawal from the casino license, the question remains whether there will be any other bidders interested in bringing a gaming resort to the region. The Cairns region was only one out of three regions where a bidding on integrated resorts was proposed by the former government, the two other being Queen’s Wharf and gold Coast.