Canberra Casino, a gaming establishment based in Australia and owned by Hong Kong’s Aquis Entertainment, is currently trying to expand its offerings on the casino floor by providing pokies to its players. Otherwise known as slots and video poker, the pokies would be part of a massive update to the venue and Aquis has reportedly proposed a budget of AUS$330 million for the project. Permission from the Australian government which regulates gambling would be required, and the casino owners are pushing to gain the licensing required to add pokies at the resort.
Canberra Casino currently offers table games such as roulette and blackjack, as well as poker being a main focus. The venue is host to frequent tournaments and offers VIP clubs to valued players who regularly visit. Adding pokies to the layout of the establishment, according to Aquis, is a valuable tool in attracting high net worth tourists who would generate considerable revenue for Canberra and bring additional economic growth to the area.
Aquis Entertainment has stated that this addition would involve approximately 500 pokie machines to be placed at the casino, and further goes on to express its confidence in attracting more tourists to the region with the new offering. The target demographic of Asians with considerable net worth from various countries is the driving force behind updating the structure of the casino into a more full-service model. However, this proposal is not going through the appropriate avenues without some pushback. Clubs Australia’s representative and executive director, Anthony Ball, has pointed out that the new addition is misguided and would probably attract locals to the casino instead of the intended draw of tourists.
Ball goes on to explain his skeptical view on the proposal by adding that the attraction of locals to the casino would drastically impact the rest of the venues in various regions of Australia. Once Canberra has been given its license to operate pokies at its location, the other smaller clubs in the area would be destroyed as a results of local Australians flocking to the casino resort instead. Still, Canberra Casino and Aquis Entertainment insist that this would not be the case and that the main focus is on VIP gamblers from countries such as China, Japan, and other Asian nations.
The main factor behind this opposition is the group of member clubs which are currently part of Clubs Australia. According to records, there are approximately over 30 local clubs within close distance to Canberra Casino, and the establishment’s addition of pokies would run all of these other venues out of business. According to the group, history has shown that casinos immediately start targeting local revenue as soon as they are firmly established in the market. Aquis initially made the proposal for pokies in 2015 and hopes to see the new plan come to fruition at some point this year.