Casino hub EOIs closed

The Cairns Post - - NEWS - NICK DAL­TON nick.dal­ton@news.com.au

THE door has shut for con­glom­er­ates want­ing to open a sec­ond casino in Cairns.

Ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est for a Global Tourism Hub have closed.

The hub, which in­cludes a casino as well as high-end ho­tels and re­tail, din­ing and entertainment venues, could cost as much as $1 bil­lion.

The gov­ern­ment has ear­marked a pre­ferred site in Wharf St on Ports North land and next to the city’s con­ven­tion cen­tre.

A short­list of pre­ferred pro­po­nents will not be de­cided un­til early next year.

The State Gov­ern­ment is not re­veal­ing much as the bid­ding war reaches a crit­i­cal stage.

A spokesman would not say how many ex­pres­sions of in­ter­est were lodged nor who they were from.

“The gov­ern­ment is en­cour­aged by the mar­ket’s re­sponse (to the Ex­pres­sions of In­ter­est),” the spokesman for Tourism In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Kate Jones said.

“Those EOI re­sponses are now be­ing eval­u­ated by the state and pro­po­nents suc­cess­ful in this phase will be is­sued with the Re­quest for De­tailed Pro­pos­als (RFDP) doc­u­men­ta­tion in early 2019,” he said.

It is ex­pected the pro­pos­als will be eval­u­ated in the first half of 2019 and the pre­ferred pro­po­nent an­nounced and trans­ac­tion doc­u­ments signed in the sec­ond half of the year. Con­struc­tion is likely to be­gin in the sec­ond half of 2020.

The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment’s projects chief ex­ec­u­tive David Ed­wards briefed the busi­ness com­mu­nity in Cairns ear­lier this week but was tightlipped.

It is un­der­stood one op­tion dis­cussed was the pos­si­bil­ity of one ma­jor player op­er­at­ing both the Cairns ven­ture and a sec­ond casino ear­marked for the Gold Coast.

In June Mr Ed­wards told an Ad­vance Cairns break­fast that the gov­ern­ment was work­ing with 11 or­gan­i­sa­tions on the EOI and ex­pected the short­list to come down to two or three.

The Reef Ho­tel Casino in Cairns has lodged an EOI.

In May Ms Jones met Las Ve­gas casino heavy­weights about the global tourism hub pro­posed for Cairns.

A tabled re­port in Queens­land Par­lia­ment showed Ms Jones and se­nior de­part­men­tal of­fi­cials met high-rank­ing Cae­sars Palace, Las Ve­gas Con­ven­tion and Visi­tors Au­thor­ity, Hard Rock Asia and MGM Re­sorts In­ter­na­tional ex­ec­u­tives.

ed­i­to­rial@cairn­spost.com.au face­book.com/TheCairn­sPost www.cairn­spost.com.au twit­ter.com/TheCairn­sPost

TALKS: Tourism Min­is­ter Kate Jones has met with Las Ve­gas casino heavy­weights.

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