Hong-Kong-based Aquis Entertainment, owner of Canberra Casino, wants the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government to allow pokies at the resort as part of its A$330 million (US$235.6 million) redevelopment, local media reports.
Aquis has reportedly lodged a proposal with the government to liberalize the market and allow 500 pokies to be placed in the casino, saying a “full-service gaming model” was essential to attract tourists from Asia.
Clubs Australia executive director Anthony Ball opposed the proposal, saying it was more likely to attract locals, rather than high net worth tourists.
“We look at what’s happening in Canberra with some scepticism,” Ball was quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. “We have a casino operator talking a lot about VIP gamblers coming in from Asia and China and apparently flying over Singapore, the Philippines, while avoiding Melbourne and Sydney before landing in Canberra to have a bet. They are selling the dream but we know they really have their eyes on Canberra locals. And once they get their licence they will go after them aggressively and that will decimate the clubs industry in the ACT.”
The association said it was concerned the plan would force many of its member clubs out of business, given that 35 of the clubs were within 10 kilometers of the Canberra casino.
“History shows us as soon as they are set, casinos aggressively market to locals. They talk a lot about VIPs but when it matters they spend a lot of time marketing to families that live in the Australian cities.”
Aquis first lodged its proposal with the ACT government in August last year, they hope to gain the required approval in 2016.