(Refiles to remove extraneous word from headline, no change to
SYDNEY, March 5 Australia's Queensland
government reported strong interest on Wednesday from both local
and foreign bidders for its plan to build as many as three
casino resorts, underscoring the northern state's position as
the country's next gaming frontier.
Australia is looking to build large casino resorts and other
tourism attractions to lure high-end Asian spenders to compete
with places like Macau and the Philippines.
Australia's 13 casinos currently capture just 1 percent of
the $34 billion market for high-roller gamblers in Asia
A total of 19 companies have registered to make a potential
bid for the licences for the integrated casino and hotel
developments, the government said.
Twelve of the companies were looking at a development in
central Brisbane, including Echo Entertainment Group,
which operates the existing casino in the city.
Echo, which last year lost its exclusive licence in Sydney
when the New South Wales government decided to allow rival Crown
Ltd to proceed with a high roller development, has
pledged to invest A$1.5 billion ($1.34 billion) to protect its
Crown Resorts Ltd, controlled by billionaire James
Packer, and China's state-owned property developer, Greenland
Holdings Group, are also eyeing the Brisbane development, local
The remaining seven potential bidders have expressed an
interest in developments in regional Queensland. These include
Chinese tycoon Tony Fung's plan to build a A$4.2 billion casino
and resort project in Cairns city.
The government did not disclose the names of the remaining
companies, but said they included construction groups,
financiers, legal advisors and gaming operators.
They have until March 31 to make a formal expression of
interest and are expected to form consortia to meet that next
hurdle. Detailed proposals are due later in the year.
Crown and Greenland officials were not available for
($1 = 1.1176 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang and Jane Wardell; Editing by