After the sting of losing the rights to build the Queen’s Wharf casino in Brisbane to the Destination Brisbane Consortium (Star Entertainment Group, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, and Far East Consortium (Australia) in November, Crown is now the frontrunner to bid for a second casino license in the heart of Brisbane, according to The Australian.

Crown Resorts and the Chinese-backed ASF Consortium are negotiating to operate the proposed casino after a deal was made last year with the Palaszczuk government to develop a 5-hectare site on the Gold Coast Broadwater, next to luxury hotel Palazzo Versace and Sea World. The Gold Coast’s $7.5 billion Broadwater Marine project and the $8.15 billion Aquis project in Cairns were the two projects chosen by the state government to receive casino licenses in regional Queensland after three “integrated resort developments,” including Queen’s Wharf, were proposed by the former Newman government to help boost tourism and construction.

In spite of concerns by the Queensland government regarding the high level of involvement of Chinese state-owned companies in the bid, ASF expressed interest to operate the proposed casino. The Australian Stock Exchange-listed ASF Group leads the consortium, however, the two Chinese state-owned partners, CCCC Guangzhou Dredging Co Limited, and China State Construction Engineering Co Limited, are expected to provide equity in and build the project. While ASF was warned that winning approval for a license on its own would not be easy going and that a bringing a proven casino operator into the bid would be preferable, it is understood that Crown is ASF’s preferred choice. According to a Queensland’s Office of Liquor and Gaming spokesman, bidders have always been required to be capable of demonstrating they have “appropriate experience in the management and operation of the casino.”

The proposed Queen’s Wharf casino would be in competition with Jupiters Gold Coast at Broadbeach, which is a Star property and in the process of undergoing an $850 million upgrade. Last year, after opposition from the incoming Labor movement and residents, ASF was forced to abandon its original site at Wavebreak Island at Southport.

Later this year, a master plan is expected to be submitted by ASF that will include residential apartments, a luxury hotel, convention facilities, and a casino.