(Adds details on Chinese firms shortlisted, context)
* Far East Consortium/Chow Tai Fook, state-owned Greenland
* Chinese developers up against domestic stalwarts Crown and
By Byron Kaye
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 bidders it had
shortlisted for the three casino licences.
They are property giant Far East Consortium/Chow Tai Fook
Enterprises, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Cheng Yu-tung,
one of the world's richest businessmen, and Chinese state-owned
real estate developer Greenland Group.
These 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.
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 several
casino and hotel complexes.
Across Asia, countries from the Philippines and Vietnam to
South Korea are setting up lavish casino resorts to lure moneyed
Chinese, who have earned a reputation as the world's most
prolific, and biggest spending gamblers.
DRAWING IN THE CHINESE
Brisbane, the capital of Australia's third most populous
state, is already a hit with tourists because of its warm
climate and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef.
The city is keen to emulate the success of Singapore's two
casino resorts, run by Genting Singapore PLC and Las
Vegas Sands Corp and which dramatically boosted visitor
spending after they opened in 2010.
"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 Chinese developers are keen to take a chunk of a market
so far dominated by domestic firms. Greenland told Reuters on
Wednesday it is studying the project in Brisbane.
The company has so far invested 8.7 billion yuan ($1.39
billion) in four residential and hotel projects in Australia and
also runs an integrated resort with casinos, residential and
commercial operations in Jeju, South Korea.
Cheng Yu-tung's Chow Tai Fook Enterprises has been closely
involved with the development of Macau's casino industry over
the past two decades through a 10 percent stake in STDM, which
was founded by his close friend, the former Macau gaming kinpin
Cheng in January this year spent $950 million via
International Entertainment Corporation to buy a Macau junket
operator to expand his position in the lucrative industry.
The Chinese bidders for the Brisbane licences 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)
($1 = 6.2486 Chinese Yuan)
(Additional reporting by Farah Master and Clare Jim in Hong
Kong; Editing by Miral Fahmy)