Spooked by the volatile conditions of the global casino industry, Hong Kong gaming tycoon Tony Fung is bidding farewell to his six-year dream of building an $8 billion integrated casino resort in Australia.
In an interview with The Courier-Mail, Fung revealed he will no longer build the Aquis casino resort project, which has been touted to transform the city of Cairns. Instead, the businessman is “pushing ahead with plans to develop a $2 billion luxury hotel, apartment, and villa complex at the Yorkey’s Knob site.”
The businessman admitted that he had a change of heart after the global casino industry took a “nose dive” in the last two years.
“My original concept was casino-led,” Fung said, according to the news outlet. “But the whole casino industry is not the same as it was 26 months ago. It (Aquis GBR) has been six years and lots of time, money and effort on my side, but the market has changed.”
The long-awaited Aquis Great Barrier Reef project at Yorkeys Knob was planned to have a coastal strip located north of Cairns converted into a colossal integrated resort. Aquis originally planned to build 4,000 luxury hotel rooms on a platform over a series of lagoons during the first stage of development, which is slated for 2017.
But in April, Aquis withdrew from the Integrated Resort Development process, which the company needed to open its flagship casino in the project. At the time, Aquis hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a casino development in Cairns, but stressed that the company wanted to focus on building the hotel part for now.
Fung, however, has quashed any remaining hope that Aquis had just suspended its casino plans. The businessman confirmed he’s no longer applying for a casino license, and he’s in “positive” negotiations with the government for land development approvals.
Aquis’s decision to cancel has left opening for new license applications in the state of Queensland. Government officials said Aquis can still apply if the license is still available in the future, but “there will be no preferential consideration” for the casino operator.
But it appears that Fung will not change his mind anytime soon.
“In Yorkeys Knob, the potential for development is secure, now it is in real estate,” the businessman said.