Several casino operators are reportedly interested in the opportunity to win a casino license in Queensland.
Two regional casino licenses are now available in Queensland after the state government recently rejected a proposal to build an A$3 billion casino resort on the Gold Coast Spit. The government dropped the plan after large-scale public opposition.
State Treasurer Curtis Pitt stated that there was renewed interest from global developers after casino developer Aquis shelved plans last year for a regional casino at Yorkeys Knob.
In a statement Pitt said,
I’ve indicated that in my view there is a very strong interest in Cairns and again a very strong opportunity for something to happen in Far North Queensland
Some of the companies interested in exploring the Far North market include Cambodia-based operator NagaCorp. Paradise Palms Resort located on Kewarra Beach just north of Cairns has been named as a potential casino location. Although no official confirmation is available, consultant Pat Flanagan who handled the environmental study for the Yorkeys Knob project said that it was one of the few sites that could handle an integrated resort.
Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
He noted that Paradise Palms has the necessary infrastructure along with a golf course as well as available land for further development. Flanagan also pointed out that Cairns was a likely contender for a casino location as it is the only regional city having an international airport other than the Gold Coast. Paradise Palms Resort and Country Club managing director Darren Halpin was unable to comment on the matter due to an existing confidentiality agreement with the State government.
Cairns Regional Council Division 5 Councilor Richie Bates stated that it was better to locate a casino in the Central Business District (CBD) of Cairns rather than outlying areas like Paradise Palms. He pointed out that access to an airport is a major factor that will determine the final decision on the location.
Director Keith De Lacy of Reef Casino which is located in Cairns City said that his company had earlier supported the Aquis proposal due to its potential to bring in additional tourists. He stated that Reef Casino was considering expanding its facilities and was in discussion with the government on the possibility. De Lacy noted that the company was conscious of the government’s priorities and the public needs.
Cairns Mayor Bob Manning was concerned that the State government had kept the local city government out of initial discussions and wanted the government to keep them updated with the latest developments.