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Bigger than Barangaroo: Cairns' proposed mega casino resort

A flood plain in Yorkeys Knob, 15 kilometres north of Cairns could be the site of Australia’s biggest tourism development, the Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort.


Being likened to something found in Dubai, Las Vegas or Macau, the six star casino resort will reportedly cost $8.15 billion and promises the creation of 3,750 construction jobs and 20,000 ongoing resort jobs, ABC Radio National reported.


“This is a completely different project than what you're thinking about when you think about a city centre casino that might exist somewhere else in Australia,” Aquis chief executive Justin Fung told the ABC.


“It's a game changer.”


But planning to build a casino on a plain which floods in summer into a community that faces an eight percent unemployment rate has raised a few hands in protest.


Centacare Cairns executive director Helga Biro told the ABC that while the promise of work to the region’s unemployed may be welcomed, the potential “social disadvantage” of bringing a casino to the region may outweigh the positives.


While Aquis says it expects to take its profits from international visitors, Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce chairman Tim Costello maintains that simply won’t work in Australia.


“The truth is people who are locals, particularly those within a 25 kilometre radius, are the ones who play at the casino.”


“The dressing up, which is a very familiar chorus now for those of us who follow this, that, ‘Oh no, this is different, this is going to be overseas people and it's not going to touch the locals’ has been proved wrong every time.”


The State Coordinator General is currently assessing issues in regards to the plans for the Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort.



Fast facts >>

  • The resort will be equivalent to the size of 184 Sydney cricket grounds.
  • Plans show eight 20-storey hotel towers, two casinos, theatres, a convention centre and a championship golf course.
  • 7,500 total rooms will be built across the eight luxury hotels.
  • The resort will be able to cater for 12,000 guests a day (or a million guests a year).
  • Aquis is seeking permission for 750 gaming tables and 1,500 poker machines.


Written by: Gaya Avery
Published: 8 September 2014

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