Echo, Crown Resorts move ahead in Brisbane casino race

    Echo Entertainment, Crown Resorts and two other companies have made it through to the next stage in a bidding battle for a new casino license in the Queensland town of Brisbane, according to reports. Also on the shortlist are Hong Kong-based Far East Consortium and joint venture partner Chow Tai Fook, and Chinese group Greenland Investment Pty Ltd, while Lend Lease and SkyCity Entertainment missed out.
    The license is to redevelop the Queen’s Wharf site in downtown Brisbane. Echo Entertainment already holds a casino license in the town.
    “The next phase of the process will be an opportunity for the shortlisted proponents to demonstrate their vision and innovation in transforming this under-utilised but important part of the Brisbane CBD,” the report cited State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Jeff Seeney as saying. The companies have until the end of the year to submit fully developed proposals with the final winner due to be chosen in early 2015.
    On Monday, the government announced that it had chosen plans from Asian investors Aquis at the Great Barrier Reef Pty Ltd and the ASF Consortium Pty Ltd as the likely winners for two regional licenses. The multi-billion dollar projects in other regions of the state will be permitted to proceed if they meet environmental assessment and other licensing approvals.
    “The Queensland Government has identified that these projects have the greatest capacity to deliver the requirements for an integrated resort development in the regions, particularly the potential to attract interstate and international tourists as both these centres have international airports,” Seeney said in a statement.
    Aquis, backed by Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung and ASF, made up of an Australian and Chinese companies, beat out four other bidders.
    Seeney said the other bids had been at an earlier stage of development and some faced challenges such as access to an international airport, meaning they were unlikely to be able to be competitive internationally and boost tourism numbers to the state.