Having turned a loss of $3.96m into a profit of $798,201 in 2020, Aquis Entertainment, operator of the Canberra casino in Australia’s capital, has said it wants to kick on with stalled government negotiations to transform the casino into an integrated resort.
The company was granted conditional approval in November 2017 to operate 200 electronic games machines as part of the redevelopment plans. Aquis had wanted to install 500 slot machines at Canberra Casino but the government agreed in May 2016 to let it operate 200 slot machines and 60 electronic table games. The government wants Aquis to buy 300 slot machine licenses from local clubs, forfeiting 100 of them, and then installing 200 machines, a demand that has stalled any progress for years.
Tony Fung, Chairman of Aquis, said he was now keen to push the deal through.
“A redevelopment of our casino building still forms part of our longer-term strategy for growth in Canberra. I continue to believe that the opportunity for the development of an integrated entertainment precinct in Canberra’s CBD offers the ACT a once in a lifetime tourism infrastructure opportunity,” he said. “Conditional approval (given November 2017) provides for us to operate 200 electronic gaming machines (EGM’s) as part of the redevelopment, however due to the effects of Covid-19, we have not to date advanced our discussions with the government in any meaningful way, any further than previously reported.
“We do remain committed to the redevelopment of the property and we believe that the post Covid19 recovery in Canberra is the greatest opportunity to do so. We will be holding discussions with the government this year to discuss the conditions in place in relation to the redevelopment and EGM’s and we look forward to the opportunity to deliver to Canberra the kind of world class entertainment precinct that our Capital city deserves and to creating many new employment opportunities and
further securing all existing roles within our business.”
The casino business was mandated by the Government to shutdown on March 23 2020 as one of the measures to slow down the spread of Covid-19 in the community; and re-commenced trading on 10 August 2020 under restricted trading capacity and arrangements.
Mr. Fung said: “Since re-opening, the Company’s performance has been strong and growing. To date, our business performance and outlook remain positive. 2021 is going to be another significant year for us, with the influence of our management team continuing to consolidate efforts in relation to both revenue generation and expense control, while under significantly challenging conditions as the community continues to experience major changes in their way of life whilst living in the pandemic.
The trajectory we had worked so hard to build in the lead up to March 2020 picked up and continued right through to the end of 2020, despite the restrictions in operations and capacity. Our 2019 result of a group loss of $3.96m was turned around to a 2020 profit of $798,201 which is again a validation of the executive team and the initiatives injected into the business, leading up to, during and post the pandemic closure. While we acknowledge the challenges now and, in the future, we remain undaunted and continue to strive for excellence in every area of our Casino business.
“The progress we have made in the last five years, up to and throughout 2020 and the results achieved to date are so impressive, when we consider the state of the property and business when we first took ownership and the crippling effects of Covid-19 globally. We continue to be so proud of how far we have come and of the commitment and performance of every member of our team and we are very excited by the future opportunities for further improvements and growth in our business,” he added.