ASF BACK AT THE TABLE
EXCLUSIVE: Consortium in new talks on casino
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.