The Gold Coast Bulletin

Shareholde­rs on a winning streak with Aquis punt


IT’S a casino which holds naming rights for a suite of key Gold Coast events, harbours ambitious redevelopm­ent plans and has enjoyed immense share price growth in recent months – but it’s not The Star.

Billionair­e Tony Fung, chairman of listed company Aquis Entertainm­ent, has made no secret of the fact his unassuming and relatively tiny Canberra Casino is on the market.

In a week where consolidat­ion of Australian casinos has made headlines through the proposed merger of The Star Entertainm­ent and Crown, shares in Aquis have hovered around 20c – 10 times their value at the end of January.

AQS shares, which were trading at 2.5c at the start of February, soared as high as 82c on February 19, when 17.2 million shares were traded in a single day.

Both Star and Crown have refused to be drawn on any speculatio­n over future acquisitio­ns.

A merged Star-Crown casino conglomera­te would operate six casinos in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and the Gold Coast.

The deal would still leave casinos in Canberra, Darwin, Townsville, Cairns, Adelaide and Tasmania outside the Star stable.

Darwin’s former SkyCity Casino was sold to American company Delaware North for $188m in 2018.

New Zealand-owned SkyCity still owns its casino in Adelaide, while Wrest Point in Hobart and Country Club Casino

in Launceston are operated by Tasmania’s family-owned Federal Group.

Townsville’s Ville ResortCasi­no is owned by rich-lister Chris Morris.

The Cairns Reef Casino is operated by an ASX-listed company which is majorityow­ned by European lottery company SAZKA Group – itself part-owned by the Austrian Government.

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