Global casino giant Caesars Entertainment Corporation has now signed an agreement with Chinese-backed investment firm ASF Consortium that would see it operate the casino portion of a A$3bn resort on the Australian Gold Coast.
Local news outlet The Australian reported that the agreement would allow the two parties to commence due diligence proceedings and discuss commercial terms regarding the operation of a future casino resort on the site.
Officials from Caesars visited the Gold Coast earlier this month and are understood to have completed a first round of assessments on the area's market opportunities.
At the time Caesars' President of International Development, Steven Tight, declined to comment “on rumour or speculation” adding that “It’s accurate to say we are continuing to study the opportunity”. It now seems that the opportunities were sufficiently appealing for Caesars to move forward.
Chinese private equity firm ASF consortium was selected as the Queensland government's preferred bidder for the development of a casino resort back in 2013. Since then the project has been beset by problems, delays and financial concerns arising from the consortium's reported involvement with the Chinese government.
An initial project to build a A$7.5bn casino on the artificially created Wavebreak island was scrapped due to environmental concerns in 2015, with the developers eventually settling on a A$3bn project in the Southport Spit area of the Gold Coast resort.
Despite the trials and tribulations of the last twelve months, Caesars have confirmed that it has big expansion plans which include expanding into Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and now Australia.
A public consultation on the Gold Coast project recently closed, with officials from the Queensland government set to confirm its findings over the next few weeks. Approval from both the local community and the Queensland government itself is required before any development work can proceed.
ASF Group director Louis Chien told The Australian that the responsibility was now with the state government to get behind the project and define what was needed for it to proceed. “We will select a casino operator as part of a detailed proposal.”
Chien called on the Queensland government to do more to clarify its intentions adding: “We’ve got investors here, we’ve got people waiting. Come to the table. We just need clarity.”