Echo chairman adds fire to Brisbane casino race, questions Tony Fung’s Aquis casino project

TAGs: Australia, brisbane, Echo Entertainment, John O'Neill, Kirby Garlitos, reef casino trust

Echo Entertainment is throwing another shot at rival Crown Resorts’ casino bid in Brisbane even as Echo admits it has a Plan B lined up in case its own proposal fails to get the nod.

Echo chairman adds fire to Brisbane casino race, questions Tony Fung's Aquis casino projectEcho Chairman John O’Neill has challenged the State Government in Queensland to think really long and hard about giving Crown the casino license in Queen’s Wharf.

O’Neill pointed out that having two casinos in the area – Echo already has the Treasury Casino – wouldn’t make sense from a business and competitive standpoint, especially if they’re, in O’Neill’s own words, “right next door to each other.”

It’s clear that Echo doesn’t want Crown to break ground in a place it believes is its own yard, not after Crown successfully broke Echo’s Sydney casino monopoly.

O’Neill didn’t dive into specifics of its alternative plans in case Crown succeeds in Brisbane, opting to take the more positive approach of betting on its own proposal to go the distance. “It’s a contest,” O’Neill told The Courier Mail. “We are of course intensely interested in being the winner. Complacency doesn’t enter our vocabulary.”

The Echo chairman also took a pot shots at Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung’s A$81.5 billion casino plans in Cairns.

O’Neill had trouble believing that Fung’s Aquis is really serious about investing that much money on a casino, pointing out that it’s not a price Echo would be comfortable investing. “Would you invest $1 billion? Maybe,” O’Neill said. “For $8 billion, you’d need a lot of things to go right.”

Fung’s Aquis resort is in limbo after the company withdrew its bid to purchase the Reef Casino Trust. Fung still hopes the takeover will be completed but that possibility isn’t as clear-cut as it once was, leaving the massive casino project in an uncertain situation.


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