Canberra Casino is owned by Aquis Entertainment, a company based in Hong Kong, who would like to see the venue begin to offer pokie gaming (slots and video poker). Aquis would like to see the Australian Capital Territory government give the venue permission to provide pokies in the Australian resort as part of their redevelopment plan. Aquis plans on spending A$330 million on the project.
Reportedly, Aquis has created a proposal and asked the government to allow 500 pokies to be placed at Canberra Casino, stating a full service gaming model would be attractive to Asian tourists. Anthony Ball, the Executive Director of Clubs Australia, is opposed to the proposal, stating that the pokies were more likely to attract locals instead of tourists with high net worth.
In the Sydney Morning Herald, Ball was quoted as stating that Clubs Australia looks at what is happening with Canberra with skepticism. The casino operator is talking a lot about VIP gamblers coming to the venue from China and Asia, even Singapore and the Philippines, while avoiding Sydney and Melbourne before visiting Canberra to gamble. Ball feels that Canberra is selling the dream but Clubs Australia feels that the venue really has their eyes on the locals. Once the license for pokie gaming is allowed, then the casino would decimate the clubs industry in the ACT, according to Ball.
The group is concerned that the plan of Aquis would force the member clubs out of business, since there are 35 clubs located within a short distance of the casino. Clubs Australia stated that history shows that as soon as casinos are set, they begin to market the locals.
Aquis first asked for pokies last year and hope to see approval given this year.