Echo wins rights to Brisbane’s new casino

The fight for land use on Brisbane’ much coveted riverfront has been settled. Echo Entertainment has emerged the winner and has been awarded the winning bid. The competition was fierce but the company has secured the bid with their land proposal beating the competitor Crown Resorts. The two development powerhouses have spent several months battling in fierce competition over the highly sought after riverfront property. The land use has been settled and Echo entertainment is slated to construct a multi-billion dollar gaming and entertainment complex on Brisbane’s riverfront over the next five years.

Both Echo and Crown formed partnerships with Chinese based groups for their prospective bids. The partnerships were formed strategically to assist the firms in better targeting the growing mainland Chinese market. Currently 18% of all Australian tourism is made of up Chinese nationals. As China’s middle class expands this number is thought to rise making China the fastest-growing source of tourists for Australia.

The Echo led consortium includes Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd. and Far East Consortium International Ltd. and had been projected as the preferred bidder for the river-front site against competitor billionaire James Packer’s Crown Resorts Ltd. The elaborate bids from both entertainment powerhouses were enticing to Brisbane officials but in the end Echo Entertainment’s bid won out.

The massive project includes the completion of an impressively iconic arc-shaped building, five new premium hotels, three residential towers and more than 50 restaurants and bars. Brisbane officials favored Echo’s inclusion of public spaces such as a publicly accessible sky deck, a moonlight cinema and a pedestrian bridge to South Bank. The company’s plans also include the conversion of the state’s former Treasury building, which currently houses a popular Echo owned casino, into a Ritz Carlton Hotel as well as a department store. Some officials told sources that the Echo Entertainment bid stood out gaining favor because of its great use of public space as well as its ambitious timeline for construction.

The project is expected to put Queensland on the map feeding Brisbane’s burgeoning tourism industry and encouraging economic growth. The work on the multi-billion dollar gaming and entertainment complex is set to begin ground breaking in late 2016 or early 2017. The construction of the complex means the creation of thousands of temporary jobs for Brisbane with many more permanent to come once the project is completed. The projected goal for completion of the resort is tentatively set for year 2022.

It is estimated that the riverfront resort could cost as much as $1.5 billion, according to some sources. However many are hopeful that the investment will be worthwhile and are expecting a great return. The redirection of funds comes on the heels a recent decline in the petroleum industry. Experts have forecasted that mineral royalties will be returning approximately A$4.6 billion less over the next four years than had been previously expected. The hope is for many that the resort could make Brisbane a premium tourist destination offsetting the decline in revenues from the petroleum and mining markets.

The win for Echo marks a victory for the companies continuing monopoly as Brisbane’s only licensed casino. Echo shares have risen 28 percent so far this year, the company remains optimistic as stock in Echo continues to rise in accordance with the growth in Australia’s tourism. Experts believe that the casinos in Australia can grow fast enough to completely absorb the cost for as many as three new major casino resorts over the next five years. The win also means that Queensland will have at total of four casinos by the beginning of the next decade.

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