The business case, which will expand the casino’s leisure and night life offerings, was submitted to the ACT government. This is the second step in the application process: the ACT government previously announced that Aquis’s concept submission “met all requirement of the first stage of the government’s investment proposal guidelines.”
Aquis acquired the Canberra Casino—a local gaming facility lacking a “wow factor”—for AUD 6 million in 2015, and immediately invested AUD14 million to give the casino a complete makeover. The two-stage revamp includes plans to build VIP and mass gaming facilities, six-star villa accommodation, a five-star hotel, retail food and beverage and a shopping mall. Aquis also eyes building a 3,300 square meter extension to the National Convention Center.
The casino operator is eyeing to lure additional 700,000 visitors annually with the casino overhaul, “shifting from a predominantly local catchment casino today, to one patronized more heavily by interstate and international tourists.”
Canberra Casino already has a leg up on the table games front after the ACT government extended its license to allow multi-terminal games on its casino floor. Under the extension, the casino’s number of terminals will more than double from the 22 terminals previously used for rapid roulette to 50 for the multi-terminal games, including baccarat, roulette and sic bo.
Canberra Casino is also the only casino in Australia without a poker machine, but the government announced back in May that it will offer the casino access to 200 poker machines—lower than Aquis Entertainment’s requested 500 machines—on the condition that the casino would have to buy existing machines from local clubs, which has been actively opposing Canberra Casino’s bid to operate pokies.
Gwyn Rees, chief executive of Clubs ACT, stressed the community will not benefit from the casino’s machine revenues, telling abc.net.au: “If the casino wants to make their money back… they will need to supercharge their returns and profits, this will mean going aggressively after the local market. This is not money returned to the community… but to a foreign owner.”