A Chinese billionaire has launched a takeover bid of Canberra’s casino.
Tony Fung, who funds Aquis Casino Acquisitions, wants to acquire Casino Canberra and the Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns as part of an estimated $276 million deal.
Earlier this year Casino Canberra was forced to cut staff and operating hours due to a significant fall in revenue.
The casino blamed the cuts on unfavourable economic conditions and the ACT Government’s refusal to allow it to operate poker machines.
But an announcement to the Australian stock market today said the casino’s owner, Casinos Austria International, has agreed to sell the casino to Aquis Casino Acquisitions.
Mr Fung’s move into the Australian casino market was highlighted in August when he received approval to build a $4.2 billion casino and resort in Cairns.
The Cairns resort includes nine luxury hotels, an 18-hole golf course, a man-made 20 hectare lagoon and a 25,000 seat sports stadium.
Aquis chief executive Justin Fung says the company’s plans for Canberra are not as extravagant but will address the casino’s struggling finances.
“We plan to improve the facility if possible,” he said.
“Being the only casino in the nation’s capital this is a significant asset.”
Mr Fung says a priority issue is the ACT Government’s monopoly over poker machines.
“It’s certainly something that we plan to address if the Government is open to the idea of pokie machines, we certainly would love to discuss that option,” he said.
“But again we’re exploring a lot of different options on how best to utilise the facilities.
“The staff have no reason to be worried, we plan to retain all staff.”
The Australian Stock Exchange announcement says the deal has been approved by all parties and barring a better offer it will go ahead.
The company still needs to gain the approval of both the ACT and Queensland governments, as well as all relevant regulatory bodies.