Queensland granted “coordinated project” status to the proposed A$4.2 billion ($3.75 billion) Aquis Great Barrier Reef casino resort plan of Hong Kong businessman Tony Fung, the first step of the state’s approval process for the project which would overtake the Crown Casino in Melbourne as the largest casino in the Southern Hemisphere and make Cairns the first Australian city with two casinos. Fung is asking to equip the casino, which would target Chinese tourists, with 750 tables and 1,500 slot machines, with opening forecast for 2018.
The resort would include nine luxury hotels, 1,200 apartments, 135 villas, a large aquarium, a golf course, a sports stadium and a convention center. The coordinated project status makes Aquis eligible for a streamlined approval process, with the next step being an environmental impact assessment. Some residents of the targeted area are concerned about the large scale of the project and its potential impact.