Australia’s Queensland state may issue as many as three new casino licenses as it seeks to spur tourism with integrated resorts modeled after Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa.
The state will welcome applications for redevelopment of a riverfront site in central Brisbane that includes an existing casino operated by Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. (EGP), and consider allowing two more licenses elsewhere in the state, Premier Campbell Newman said today in an e-mailed statement.
The move challenges Echo, which has three of Queensland’s four current licenses and accounted for 97 percent of casino spending in the state in the 12 months through June, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Neighboring New South Wales state agreed in July to examine plans by billionaire James Packer’s Crown Ltd. (CWN) for a casino in Sydney that will challenge Echo’s monopoly in that city.
“Queensland can sustain up to three new integrated resort casinos,” Newman said in the statement, referring to complexes containing gaming floors, hotels and entertainment and retail precincts. “The casino is only part of these major developments, which are tourism draw cards in their own right.”
The developments “could lead to similar benefits for Queensland” as those that Singapore has seen from Genting Singapore Plc (GENS)’s Resorts World Sentosa and Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s Marina Bay Sands, Newman said.
Singapore visitor numbers reversed a decline over the previous two years and rose more than 20 percent after the resorts opened in 2010, he said.
In the Gold Coast, where Echo gets the bulk of its Queensland sales at Jupiters casino, the city council is examining four proposals to build a cruise ship terminal and possible casino resort on Broadwater Island, an artificial breakwater in the city’s lagoon. Echo climbed 1 cent today to A$2.72, trimming its decline for the year to 21 percent.
Proposals have been submitted by groups including Skycity Entertainment Group Ltd., Brookfield Asset Management (BAM:US), Zhuhai Ridong Group Ltd., and China State Construction Engineering Corp. (601668)
In the Great Barrier Reef town of Cairns, Hong Kong-based businessman Tony Fung is proposing a A$4.2 billion ($4 billion) resort including nine luxury hotels, 1,200 apartments and 135 villas.
Reef Casino Trust (RCT), which operates Cairns’ existing casino, is the only such operator other than Echo currently active in Queensland. There have been no new casino license granted in Australia since 1996.
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