Aquis Talks Up Canberra Upgrade

Aquis Entertainment has formally presented its proposed AUD307 million (US$229 million) upgrade of its Casino Canberra to the ACT government. Aquis bought the Australian property in 2015, and at one time planned to use the license to upgrade to a huge project near the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland.

Adding the “wow” factor

Hong Kong-listed Aquis Entertainment, owned by Tony and Justin Fung, has officially made its case for a proposed AUD307 million (US$229 million) renovation of its Casino Canberra in Australia’s capital city.

Details of the upgrade, which were submitted to the ACT government, include new leisure and nightlife offerings, according to This is the second step in the application process: the government has already blessed Aquis’ concept submission, saying it “met all requirement of the first stage of the government’s investment proposal guidelines.”

Aquis acquired Casino Canberra in 2015 for A$6 million, then invested A$14 million in a major renovation. Phase II of the upgrade will add VIP and mass gaming facilities, six-star villas, a five-star hotel, retail food and beverage outlets and a retail sector. Aquis is also thinking of developing a 3,300-square-meter extension to the National Convention Center, all to add “the wow factor” that will make the property an international destination.

The casino operator says the additions could attract an additional 700,000 visitors per year, “shifting from a predominantly local catchment casino today, to one patronized more heavily by interstate and international tourists.”

Canberra seems to be a favorite of the ACT government, which extended its license to allow multi-terminal games on the casino floor and more than doubled the number from 22 to 50. Though it’s the only casino in Australia without poker machines, in May the government that the casino can add 200 pokies if it buys existing machines from local clubs. The clubs resisted the move, saying it would eat into their operations. Aquis originally requested 500 machines.

Gwyn Rees, CEO of Clubs ACT told ABC, “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.”