The A$8.15 billion (US$6.3 billion) Aquis resort project will be moving ahead without a casino in the first stage, in order to expedite the necessary approvals by the end of the year and for construction to start next year, according to The Cairns Post.
Aquis leaders Tony and Justin Fung reportedly held high level talks with Brisbane treasurer Curtis Pitt earlier this week.
Pitt said the move would allow Aquis to begin development of its integrated resort without needing to remain in the Integrated Resort Development process, which is vital to securing a casino license.
“I welcome the proponent’s commitment to progressing with a large-scale integrated resort without a casino element at this first stage and I’m excited that this could mean the project is expedited to get off the ground next year,” said Pitt.
“There’s nothing preventing the future consideration of a casino operation at the Yorkeys Knob development in the future. That would, however, be subject to the availability of the regional IRD licence.”
However, Pitt stresses that the move will not lead to any preferential consideration for a casino license in the future.
According to Cairns Post, the details of the reconfiguration are still in the air, but the current understanding is that land development approvals will be sped up while the casino process takes a step back.
The first stage of the development will include five hotels of 4,000 rooms, an exhibition centre, golf course, retail shopping, an aquarium, theatre, and more.
Aquis project director Pat Flanagan said Aquis “was committed to its investment in Cairns” and also added “the project will include a casino,” without elaborating.