Canberra Casino, owned and operated by Hong Kong based Aquis Entertainment, are looking to expand their casino operation to offer a wide range of pokie games to residents of Australia and worldwide. This includes both regular slot games and video poker, which is the modern, quick alternative to regular Texas hold’em poker. Aquis are looking for permission from the Australian Capital Territory government to provide pokies and jackpot pokies as part of their huge redevelopment plan. In total, it is believed that Aquis are looking to spend around $330 million in total on this brand new renovation.
According to various news sources, Aquis has approached the local government and presented a case to allow Canberra Casino to set-up and install 500 pokie and jackpot pokie machines. Their case centers around attracting Asian tourists, with new pokie machines acting as the pull to bring them in from overseas. Anthony Ball, who is the Director of Clubs Australia, has firmly refuted this point, suggesting that pokie machines would only attract more local players instead of the high-rollers from Asia with larger bank-balances and a higher net worth.
Anthony Ball Suspects Ulterior Motives
The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Ball had started Clubs Australia has looked at what is happening with the Canberra Casino with utter skepticism. Aquis Entertainment may talk about the provision of VIP gamblers coming in from China, Japan, Singapore the Philippines and the rest of Asia, while avoiding the impact the introduction of pokie machines would have on local residents. Ball also talked about how tourists are not likely to avoid the rest of Australia, including Sydney and Melbourne, to simply visit Canberra, just because they have introduced pokie machines. Ball goes on to say that Canberra is selling the dream, but instead Clubs Australia feels that Aquis Entertainment really has their eyes on the potential local revenue. If the license is granted then the casino would destroy any local clubs in the A.C.T., according to Ball.
Ultimately, the group’s main concern is that Aquis could force other member clubs out of the industry, as there are 35 clubs located a short distance away from the casino, whose main income is generated by pokie machines. They are concerned about the local casinos dominating, and eventually controlling the gambling market; out muscling their competitors until the control the majority of the market.
Aquis has already tried once for a license to host pokies and failed. This is their second attempt, and who knows whether they will get it. They hope to gain approval before the year is out. Local businesses wait on in anticipation.