EX­CLU­SIVE: Con­sor­tium in new talks on casino

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW POTTS an­

SPIT re­sort pro­po­nents the ASF Con­sor­tium are un­der­stood to be in se­cret talks with the State Gov­ern­ment on a fresh casino pro­posal.

The news comes af­ter Mayor Tom Tate yes­ter­day re­vealed the Gov­ern­ment had writ­ten to him ex­press­ing sup­port for a new casino on the Gold Coast. A site in Surfers Par­adise has emerged as the most likely lo­ca­tion af­ter Cr Tate also dropped his plans to lo­cate the casino in South­port.

A SURFERS Par­adise site is firm­ing as the most likely lo­ca­tion for the Gold Coast’s sec­ond casino.

The project is back on the agenda, with a global ten­der set to be launched to find a de­vel­oper for what tourism bosses de­scribe as a po­ten­tial jack­pot for the city’s econ­omy.

A Glit­ter Strip site on Surfers Par­adise Boule­vard owned by a con­sor­tium led by Hong Kong bil­lion­aire Tony Fung is ex­pected to be the fore­run­ner as the po­ten­tial lo­ca­tion of the de­vel­op­ment.

But the Bul­letin un­der­stands there’s a sur­prise player still at the ta­ble – ASF Con­sor­tium.

The China-linked com­pany, which was pre­vi­ously named by the gov­ern­ment as the “pos­si­ble pre­ferred pro­po­nent” is still in “on­go­ing” talks with the State Gov­ern­ment nearly three months af­ter its con­tro­ver­sial $3 bil­lion Spit re­sort was canned.

ASF did not com­ment to the Bul­letin yes­ter­day.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate yes­ter­day said he had re­ceived a let­ter from State De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter An­thony Lyn­ham con­firm­ing gov­ern­ment sup­port for a sec­ond casino.

Cr Tate also an­nounced he was with­draw­ing con­tro­ver­sial plans to es­tab­lish a casino at South­port.

Cr Tate said he “didn’t be­lieve in mo­nop­oly (of casi­nos)” but warned state po­lit­i­cal lead­ers the city could not deal with

another five years of un­cer­tainty over the project.

“One thing about the Gold Coast is we are a mag­net for that en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit and given we are mostly in the same time zone as Asia and with the num­ber of di­rect flights we have, the city is just one sleep away from 1 bil­lion peo­ple,” he said.

“When you look at the de­mo­graph­ics it is very doable.

“As for lo­ca­tion I would say any site which is not far from the light rail would make sense to me as an en­gi­neer.”

The let­ter writ­ten to Cr Tate by Dr Lyn­ham said the gov­ern­ment was “con­sid­er­ing the next step”.

“At this stage the gov­ern­ment has no pre­ferred site for an in­te­grated re­sort on the Gold Coast,” he wrote.

“Should the gov­ern­ment de­cide to re­turn to the mar­ket it would seek to work co­op­er­a­tively with coun­cil and the mar­ket to iden­tify an ap­pro­pri­ate site, or sites.”

Sources have told the Bul­letin that po­ten­tial lo­ca­tions for the new casino in­clude the Aquis site in Surfers Par­adise which is cur­rently home to the Sling­shot, South­port’s Star of the Sea and the for­mer Gold Coast Hospi­tal site.

Other land in Car­rara sug­gested as a pos­si­ble site for the casino is con­sid­ered un­likely to be on the short­list.

Aquis last night was keep­ing its cards close to the chest.

“Aquis Aus­tralia, to­gether with its part­ners, is con­sid­er­ing a range of dif­fer­ent op­tions for the site. The site is a strate­gic hold­ing that would suit a range of dif­fer­ent uses,” a spokesman told the Bul­letin last night.

Gold Coast Tourism chair­man Paul Dono­van is a strong backer of plans to cre­ate an in­te­grated re­sort and said he wel­comed the news.

“We are lucky to al­ready have a world-class casino in The Star and the in­vest­ment they are al­ready mak­ing is ter­rific so it is great we will have a sec­ond,” he said.

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