Aquis Entertainment, a group based in Hong Kong, purchased the Australian Canberra Casino in September, planning on revamping the property with $330 million, creating a new and exciting gambling and entertainment venue in the area. Local clubs of Canberra want to see that any poker machines allowed on-site at the new gambling facility be allowed for international tourists only since the use of poker machines are currently restricted to not-for-profit operators.
Despite this rule, Aquis Entertainment is trying to add the games to their venue. Aquis has asked the ACT Government to reconsider their ruling so that they will have the opportunity to operate such games. Just last week, Clubs ACT, a representative group of community clubs in the area, confirmed that they are strongly opposed to the proposal of Aquis being able to offer poker gaming, at the board meeting.
Jeff House is the Chief Executive of Clubs ACT, and stated that the board had agreed it would only support poker machines at the new casino if the usage were only for international tourists. According to House, Clubs ACT only wants to hold the casino to their own business plan. House states the casino had said that the poker gaming machines would be for the international market, instead of domestic. By maintaining this stance, the casino would be able to maintain their current business plan, focus on international tourists and the community clubs will be protected, all at the same time.
If the casino were given the right to operate pokies across the board, House believes the territory’s community clubs would be destroyed. House stated the decision to be opposed to the option was decided upon based on what happened in Sydney with the Star City Casino. The number of community clubs was reduced to about half once the casino began similar offerings. House believes the same could be expected with Aquis.
During the meeting, House also called out for the ACT Government to honor their memorandum that had been signed. House stated that the memorandum of understanding that reads poker machines with Clubs ACT, with a rules outline, should be followed. House stated: “We signed that memorandum of understanding that clearly states that the Government at least up until the next election will support the community gaming model…So, we are expecting the ACT Government to abide by the document that they signed not so long ago, which is still valid at least until the next election.”