NagaCorp Reportedly Eyes Casino Development Opportunities in Queensland

Cambodian casino operator NagaCorp has reportedly set eyes on Cairns as the potential host of a casino resort. Reports about the company’s interest have emerged shortly after the Queensland government rejected a A$3-billion project for a Gold Coast integrated resort.

It has become known that now as there is a vacant casino license, there have been multiple major gambling operators to be eyeing an opportunity to enter Queensland’s market.

Chinese-backed ASF Consortium was the group behind the A$3-billion Gold Coast masterplan. The group of investors was selected as the preferred developer of an integrated resort back in 2014. It first proposed a A$7-billion complex on the man-built Wavebreak Island in the Gold Coast Broadwater. The project was rejected due to serious environmental concerns. ASF Consortium then came up with the Gold Coast Integrated Resort plan for a five-tower hotel, casino, and entertainment complex on Gold Coast’s Southport Spit. That project recently failed to receive approval from the Queensland government.

With the Gold Coast license being vacated, reports have emerged that Cairns has been considered as a possible host to an integrated resort. Under previous plans, a property of this kind was to be built in the city’s Yorkeys Knob suburb.

A group of investors, led by Hong Kong businessman Tony Fung, had formerly proposed to develop a 340.6-hectare site in the area, thus establishing Australia’s largest integrated resort. The property would have included a casino. However, the gambling portion of the project was scrapped and it did not take long before the multi-billion scheme was abandoned altogether.

Local media has recently reported that Mr. Fung may have renewed efforts to build a resort in Cairns after the ASF Consortium plan was rejected by the state government.

According to other reports, the existing Paradise Palms Resort in Cairns has been approached by interested casino operators for a potential partnership. However, owners of the resort have remained tight-lipped so far. Experts have pointed out that the Paradise Palms site would be very suitable for an integrated resort development, due to the fact that it has already been developed but there is much more room for expansion.

There is currently one operational casino in Cairns – Reef Hotel Casino. Keith De Lacy, Director at the property, has told local media that they have themselves been considering expansion opportunities and that they have already begun discussing the matter with the Queensland government.

Aside from the failed ASF Consortium project, the state government had also previously approved the development of Brisbane’s Queen’s Wharf district. In 2015, Australian operator The Star Entertainment Group was selected as the preferred bidder for the construction of an integrated resort on the city’s waterfront. The company was chosen over its local rival Crown Resorts.

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