Genting's Echo shortlisted for Queensland casino licence

  • Business
  • Thursday, 29 May 2014

SYDNEY: Australian gaming giants Echo Entertainment Group Ltd, in which Genting is a shareholder, and Crown Resorts Ltd will compete against some of China’s biggest property developers for casino licences in Queensland.

The Queensland government, seeking to capitalise on the growing appetite of well-heeled Chinese for travel and gaming, yesterday revealed the names of the bidders it had shortlisted for the three casino licences.

Among them are established domestic casino operators Crown Resorts Ltd, owned by Australia’s richest man James Packer, and rival Echo Entertainment Group.

They are vying against property giant Far East Consortium/Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Cheng Yutung − one of the world’s richest businessmen − and Chinese state-owned real estate developer Greenland Group for permission to build a casino in central Brisbane.

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, Queensland deputy premier Jeff Seeney said.

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,” Seeney said in a statement.

Australian casinos are expected to increase revenues by about 4% in the current 2013/14 financial year to A$5.6bil, according to consultants IBISWorld. 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.

The Chinese developers are keen to take a chunk of a market so far dominated by domestic firms. Greenland said yesterday it is studying the project in Brisbane. — Reuters

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