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Australia – More losses in Canberra but Aquis remains upbeat

By - 12 March 2018

Australia’s Canberra Casino has reported a loss of $13.8m in 2017 although its owner Aquis Entertainment remains buoyant over the property’s future however due to its promised introduction of slot machines and the potential of more international flights direct to the capital.

The casino’s directors said they expect it to ‘continue to stabilise over the coming year as record visitation rates are maintained via new and continuing marketing initiatives.’

This is the second year the venue has posted a loss although this year’s loss has almost doubled from the $7.7m loss reported in 2016.

The casino’s owners highlighted though that the $13.8m loss included a $5.49m write down of deferred tax assets without which its losses would have amounted to $8.3m. The casino’s revenues were up eight per cent to $26.1m with a seven per cent increase in gaming revenue in the casino’s first full year of operation of its refurbished gaming floor. There were also increases in footfall and hold rates.

“Canberra has been receiving direct flights from Singapore and already visitors from Singapore have attended the casino,” the directors said. “With the commencement of Qatar Airways flights to Canberra this week, further international visitation should be achieved in the coming year. Legislation has been enacted to allow 200 electronic gaming machines to operate within the casino; planning continues for the redevelopment of Casino Canberra into a world class -multi-faceted establishment and discussions with the government will continue throughout 2018 surrounding details of the legislated requirements for the pokies.”

Aquis has big plans for Canberra, having lodged a $307m redevelopment request with the ACT Government. It wants to turn the casino, which until a recent transformation was only allowed to offer table gaming, into an integrated resort development with more leisure and night life with new bars, restaurants and a luxury shopping mall. Aquis wants to build two hotels, restaurants, bars and high-end retail outlets as part of transformation that would bring 200 full-time jobs to the property.

It has already completely remodelled the casino inside and out with brand new gaming tables and a 50-seat digital Multi Terminal gaming stadium. The casino now boasts the Onyx Lounge, Chandelier Bar, the Natural 9 restaurant and The Lotus Room which offers a dedicated Poker parlour and sports bar. It is still waiting for final approval to install 200 slot machines.

As well as 200 pokies, it will be allowed 60 fully automated table games, after the passing of legislation in the Legislative Assembly last year.

Both the gaming machines and the terminals must be able to be connected to a central monitoring system that supports gaming integrity, data and tax collection, as well as the setting of harm minimisation measures.

The requirement for the casino to acquire gaming machine authorisations from existing gaming venues will contribute to reducing the overall number of gaming machine authorisations in the ACT, with the forfeiture requirement increasing from one-in-four to one-in-three for the casino. This means that 130 machines will be taken out of circulation from pubs and clubs.

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