A fresh fight is looming between James Packer’s Crown Resorts and rival The Star Entertainment Group.
Last week, reports surfaced that Crown was holding secret talks regarding a contract that will see the casino company operate Chinese-backed ASF consortium’s new $2 billion casino in Queensland.
The Star, refusing to be left behind in the battle to become Australia’s top casino operator, is also negotiating its own deal with state-owned giant China Travel Service, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
According to the report, The Star is allegedly already “in the final stages of agreeing a deal with China Travel service.” The government-run tourism and travel agency has offices in mainland China and Hong Kong, which could prove lucrative for the Australian casino operator.
The report also noted that one of The Star’s partners, Hong Kong-based Far East Consortium, is helping the Australian company broker a deal with China Travel Service to “funnel a chunk of China’s fast growing middle class to its resorts in Australia.”
The Star CEO Matt Bekier has been vocal about his goal of getting Chinese and Indian tourists into his properties. Recently, Bekier said all casino operators in the region need an “investment boost” if they want to become “a haven for affluent Chinese and Indian tourists.”
The Star Entertainment Group is planning to build a $3 billion casino resort in the Queen’s Wharf complex, featuring a 1,100-room premium hotel, residential apartments and a casino, among other facilities. The project will be named The Star and is expected to open in 2022.
The casino operator, however, is wary its Jupiters casino on the Gold Coast will lose its business if Crown’s reported partnership with the ASF consortium pushes through. The Star previously won against Crown for the right to build the Queen’s Wharf casino in Brisbane, but the ASF casino would directly compete with Jupiters casino, which is undergoing and $850 million upgrade.
ASF moved the site of its proposed casino from the Wave Break Island at Southport to a five-hectare site about 10 kilometers away from Jupiters. In addition, the consortium received a boost in March after Tony Fung deferred getting a casino license for the Aquis Great Barrier Reef project near Cairns until the first phase of its development is complete, prompting the Queensland government to reopen the tender for the region’s second integrated resort.