Written By Carla Harris
Tony Fung, a Hong Kong investor, has plans to buy and build casinos near the Great Barrier Reef—by purchasing Reef Casino Trust for $216.8 million and spending over $8 billion to build a casino, resort and convention center. However, those plans have hit a snag due to concerns from Australian regulators.
The problem voiced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is that the only major competitor to the proposed Aquis resort is the casino operated by Reef Casino Trust—the same company that Fung is planning to purchase. Regulators feel that consumers may miss promotions, improvements and extras because there will not be any direct competition.
The state government is very much in support of more casinos in the area around the reef since they stimulate economy, attract tourists and create jobs in an area that has been sluggish. However, Mr. Fung may have to make a few adjustments to his plans to meet the approval of the ACCC. The chairman of the ACCC stated in an article in The Australian that “an investigation into the extent of likely competition” between the proposed Aquis resort and the Reef Casino as well as smaller local venues that have a few machines.
The ACCC invited interested parties to share comments before August 21st so they can make a decision before the takeover would close in October. Aquis, in the same article, stated that it will respond to all concerns and feels confident that the takeover will be approved.
Even though one of the biggest potential casino deals in recent years is facing a few snags, this does not mean the deal is off. If Fung can prove that he will be responsive to the ACCC’s concerns, it is likely that residents and tourists can both expect this huge new resort to spring up in the next few years.