SYDNEY May 28 Some of China's biggest property
developers will compete against Australian gaming giants for
casino licences in Queensland, boosting the government's plans
to turn the popular tourist destination into a haven for
big-spending Chinese gamblers.
The Queensland government, seeking to capitalise on the
growing appetite of well-heeled Chinese for travel and gaming,
revealed on Wednesday the names of the four bidders it had
shortlisted for the three casino licences.
They include property giant Far East Consortium/Chow Tai
Fook Enterprises, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Cheng
Yu-tung, one of the world's richest people, and Chinese
state-owned real estate developer Greenland Group.
The Chinese firms are vying against established domestic
casino operators Crown Resorts Ltd, owned by
Australia's richest man James Packer, and rival Echo
Entertainment Group Ltd for permission to build a
casino in central Brisbane.
Capital of Australia's third most populous state, Brisbane
is already a hit with tourists because of its warm climate and
proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. China is home to some of
the world's most prolific, and biggest spending gamblers, who
often combine sight-seeing and shopping with visits to the
"It will be a landmark development designed to be a drawcard
for international tourists and businesses for generations to
come," Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said in a
Australian casinos are expected to increase revenues by
about 4 percent in the current 2013/14 financial year to A$5.6
billion ($5.18 billion), according to consultants IBISWorld.
Shortlisted companies, chosen from 12 bidders including
Australian developer Lend Lease Corp Ltd, must submit
fully developed proposals by late 2014 with the winner to be
announced in early 2015, Seeney said.
The enmity between Echo and Crown is well-known: Echo
unsuccessfully tried to stop Packer building a new casino near
its casino in central Sydney. But Echo brings to the table its
experience in Queensland, where it already operates Jupiters
Hotel & Casino Gold Coast, Jupiters Townsville Hotel & Casino,
and Brisbane's Treasury Casino & Hotel.
The Chinese bidders for the Brisbane project will join two
other compatriots that the Queensland government has already
cleared to seek planning and environmental approval for regional
These were Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung, his son Justin
Fung and their Aquis Casino Acquisitions Ltd, who plan to build
an A$8 billion ($7.40 billion) casino near the beachside city of
Cairns, and state-backed ASF China Property Consortium, which
wants to build a A$7.5 billion casino and cruise ship terminal
at the Gold Coast.
($1 = 1.0815 Australian Dollars)
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)