On Friday, The Australian reported that James Packer’s Crown was holding secret talks regarding a contract to operate the ASF consortium’s planned casino on the Gold Coast Broadwater. Neither ASF nor Crown has officially commented on the report.
ASF’s Gold Coast plans received a conditional go-ahead from the Queensland state government last August but the fact that the consortium’s chief backers are two Chinese state-owned firms – China State Construction Engineering Corp and CCCC Guangzhou Dredging Corp – reportedly led the government to suggest that obtaining the necessary gaming license would be a much smoother process if a local operator was brought on board.
ASF duly sought expressions of interest from casino operators and Crown is believed to have emerged as the frontrunner, despite the consortium’s original plan to rely on experienced US casino execs to oversee the project’s gaming operations.
A deal with ASF would at least partly alleviate the sting Crown felt after losing out to archrival The Star Entertainment Group (formerly Echo Entertainment) for the right to build the Queen’s Wharf casino in Brisbane. The ASF casino would directly compete with The Star’s Jupiters casino at Broadbeach, which is currently undergoing an $850m upgrade.
ASF has yet to submit a formal master plan detailing the nitty gritty of its Gold Coast project, which will also feature a five-star hotel, residential apartments, plus the usual dining, entertainment and convention options.
The Queensland government is now expected to reopen the tender for the region’s second integrated resort following the recent decision by billionaire Tony Fung to defer seeking a casino license for his Aquis Great Barrier Reef project near Cairns until its phase one development is complete.