Casino Canberra Reopens

Casino Canberra, owned by Hong Kong-based Aquis Entertainment, has reopened following a multimillion-dollar upgrade designed to bring in more global visitors. It will include up to 500 new pokie machines, plus semi-automated table games.

Pubs, clubs oppose pokie liberalization

Casino Canberra in the capital city of Australia is showing off an A$14 million (US$10.4 million) refurbishment aimed at international gamblers. The resort, owned by Aquis Entertainment of Hong Kong, reopened to the public on June 10, according to the Canberra Times.

“Quite frankly, this casino is unrecognizable from what it used to be,” said Casino Manager Rhiannon Bach. “The opportunity to do this refurbishment was a chance to create a space worthy of the nation’s capital.” Aquis Entertainment, spearheaded by Tony and Justin Fung, says the investment could draw 750,000 additional visitors to Canberra each year, including high-rolling Chinese gamblers. The refurbishment is part of an A$330 million redevelopment that will ultimately include a six-star deluxe hotel and a 100-suite, five-star property.

In May, the ACT government OK’d Aquis’ request to bring an additional 500 pokies to the casino, saying a “full-service gaming model” was vital to attract Asian VIPs. The measure is a cause for concern among club and hotel owners, who say the new machines will siphon off the locals market as well, and jeopardize smaller operations.

The government also extended semi-automated table games and multi-terminal games so gamblers can play baccarat, roulette and sic bo as well as rapid roulette at individual screens. A dealer must be present and oversee the games at all times, the Times reported.

The Greens’ Shane Rattenbury said he’s worried about the high-profit, rapid-turnover games, which also could cost jobs at the casino. “Semi-automated games … still involve oversight from one staff member across a number of machines,” he said. “I would be concerned if the casino was moving to automate more and more machines.”