Queensland Backing Off Casino Development?

With a new Labor government in power, official enthusiasm could be waning for a quartet of megaresorts planned for Queensland, including Echo Entertainment’s proposed Brisbane casino (l.). Chinese-backed investors have pledged some A$17 billion to develop resorts in Australia’s second largest state.

Trade Minister: casinos could bring thousands of jobs

With the rise to power of a new Labor government, plans to expand the gaming business in Queensland, Australia have slowed, according to a report on the website AsiaOne.com.

The second largest and third most populous state on the continent, Queensland was looking to add industry and jobs by growing the gaming industry. The state government opened the door to integrated resorts in 2013. By mid-2014, four major groups had lined up to invest some A$17 billion (US$13.2 billion) in the region.

They include a partnership of China’s state-owned Greenland Group and Crown Resorts, which wants to build in the capital of Brisbane; a partnership of Chow Tai Fook’s Far East Consortium and Echo Entertainment, which also has its eye on the capital city; Hong Kong-based Aquis, which plans to develop a resort on the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns; and ASF Consortium, backed by state-owned China State Construction Engineering and CCCC Dredging, which proposed a casino and cruise ship terminal.

Former Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney welcomed the plans as a “once-in-a-generation opportunity,” but that opportunity may slip away under the new government, which swept into power in January. According to AsiaOne, the new government has withdrawn support for ASF’s $7.5 billion plans for Wave Break Island, citing local opposition.

Meanwhile, Australia’s Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb is trying to accelerate the Aquis project “by whatever means.” Robb said that approval from the Queensland government needs to be obtained as soon as possible, reported CalvinAyre.com.

Robb added that Aquis backer Tony Fung’s plan to turning the region into a prime tourist destination is vital for the region. “He’s making huge investments into convention centers there,” said Robb. “It’s going to be of enormous benefit, thousands of jobs and lots of opportunity and it will be a magnet for other investment.”