James Packer’s Crown is keen for details on Queensland’s plans for up to three new mega casinos as the sunshine state chases a bigger slice of the Asian gambling dollar.
Crown chief executive Rowen Craigie has welcomed the announcement by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, and said he looked forward to seeing details of an expressions of interest process for new licences.
“Queensland is renowned globally for its incredible natural environment and climate,” Mr Craigie said in a statement.
“Investing in new attractions like integrated resorts will help ensure the state is more competitive with other global tourism destinations, many of which are already investing large sums to increase their tourism appeal.
“Crown is already participating in the consultation process around the future use of the William Street-government precinct in Brisbane which to us is an appealing site.”
Mr Newman has called for expressions of interest for a second Brisbane casino licence as part of the redevelopment of the Brisbane government precinct.
He says building a resort-style casino, and potentially another two in other parts of the state, is the best way to compete with other Asian tourist destinations.
Crown’s rival, Echo Entertainment, already operates casinos in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville.
Crown does not operate a casino in Queensland, but owns Melbourne and Perth complexes, and is negotiating the development of a VIP-casino and resort in Sydney.
Echo on Tuesday issued a statement, stating it had strong interest for some time in the government administration precinct in Brisbane.
“We look forward to the commencement of the expression of interest process later in the year as announced by the Queensland state government yesterday,” an Echo spokesperson said in a statement.
Echo Entertainment’s Treasury Casino licence in Brisbane expires in 2070, and Crown has expressed interest in such a licence, Deutsche Bank analyst Mark Wilson said.
“The government is seeking a proposal for an integrated development that is likely to include hotel, retail and entertainment precincts as well as a casino,” he said.
“The EOI (expression of interest) process will commence by the end of the year and the government will also seek interest from Asia and North America.
“The government may also offer two other casino licences for major integrated resort developments elsewhere in Queensland and locations could include the Gold Coast as part of the Broadwater Marine Project and Cairns.”
He said the threat of more competition for Echo in Queensland would weigh on its share price.
Crown’s shares on Tuesday were 59 cents, or 3.72 per cent, higher at $16.44, while Echo’s shares had lost 13 cents, or 4.78 per cent at $2.59.