A new chapter is about to be written in the extensive history of Casino Canberra, the only casino licensed to operate in the Australian Capital Territory. A unique establishment in terms of gambling destinations, the facility, as well as a tract of land behind it, has been purchased by Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung, owner of Aquis Developments, who plans to make some exhaustive upgrades to the property.
In many ways, Mr. Fung intends to turn Casino Canberra into a massive, luxury entertainment destination to rival those found on the Las Vegas Strip. His plans include the development of contemporary restaurants, bars and other leisure areas. Mr. Fung has already invited several design crews with backgrounds in Las Vegas-style casino projects to visit the property and put in bids on the impending refurbishments and construction.
According to a company statement, Managing Director of Aquis, Justin Fung, (son of Tony Fung), will relocate to Canberra later this month, along with a team of executives, to personally oversee the new project. “We see significant potential to turn the current casino into a broader leisure, entertainment and nightlife destination,” said Justin Fung.
At the moment, the most unique feature of Casino Canberra is that it is the only casino in Australia that does not feature or hold a license to operate pokies. There are no hotel accommodations on site, either. Instead, the casino is home to over three dozen active gaming tables that offer blackjack, roulette and baccarat. The Capital City’s only gambling destination also offers a poker lounge and sports betting lounge equipped for TAB.
While it’s not known if Aquis intends to pursue a license to install poker machines – there’s been no mention of it up to now – the development company has plenty of other plans in the works. A spokesman for the firm said the new development is likely to “include a mix of internationally acclaimed restaurant, bars, nightlife and entertainment options along with a redeveloped casino.”
“This really is a great time to be part of the evolution of Canberra,” extolled Mr. Fung. “The Constitution Avenue upgrade and the longer-term plans for the future development of the city provide us with a solid foundation from which we can start to make a real impact on the City South area.” He added, “I’d expect the quality of dining and entertainment options on offer to be on par with some of the best integrated casino developments in Australia and around the world.”
The statement also suggested that Aquis expects a major boost to Canberra’s economy due to the redevelopment. “We will work with local suppliers and employ local people, creating significant employment during construction and on an ongoing basis one fully operational.” The company also confirmed that the existing management team would remain intact pending a review of the operation in which “some small changes may be made in the lead up to the redevelopment.”
An economic impact review is underway and expected to be released sometime in early 2015. Aquis has set a tentative date for the completion of the new Casino Canberra for end of year, 2016.