The latest proposal for a mega casino complex hoves to in Australia where the Fungs are planning a six star resort in Northern Queensland
To look at the snazzy graphics and conceptual art depicting the proposed Aquis casino you’d think you’d accidentally clicked on a trailer for the next series of Star Trek. The idyllic sculpted landscape, rolling with greenery, the ubiquitous golf course’s bunkers providing a night sandy highlight between the trees that surround the artificial lagoon that will ring this massive, six star, gambling complex carrying with it just a little too much otherworldly perfection.
The buildings themselves seem to purposelessly eschew the straight line, each veering in character and aesthetic between the curved concrete headquarters of a monolithic secret police of the future, and the sort of smooth form domes that might at any minute begin to revolve violently on their axis and spring off into the sky under their own power. The evil genius behind the next plot James Bond will be called upon to foil would take one look and think it a tad ostentatious.
Of course gaudy design with heavy modernist tendencies is a hallmark of the modern brick-&-mortar casino, and the desire for each new development to “top” the one before was always going to produce monstrosities and carbuncles of the variety that now haunt every suburb of the northeastern United States, the gambling news pages awash with yet another proposal for an even more utilitarian combination of glass and steel in which to cage gamblers.
The $8.15 billion dollar Aquis casino project in Cairns is just the latest to display these features in the media as the father and son team of Tony And Justin Fung push forward with their plan to develop this mega structure despite having hit a few bumps along the road to progress. As Justin, the son, said “In terms of dates we’ve given in the past it has been a moveable feast. Right now we’re most comfortable saying we’d like to get started as soon as possible.” Which is code for “things are not quite going to plan.”
Won’t That Be Fung?
Apart from the sci-fi aesthetics, which I will admit are a subjective criticism at best, there is also the unfortunate location. I should hasten to point out this is not because of any fears for damage to the environment, it’s a casino, not an open-cast strip mining operation, and the environmental impact statement got approval from the Queensland Co-Ordinator General (a job title that tends towards the sci-fi evil overlord in of itself) much to the pleasure of the state’s deputy premier.
“This proposed resort,” he enthused in the traditional politician’s manner, “has the potential to create more than 20,000 new jobs of the Cairns region.” But then so would an outbreak of Ebola, and you do have to wonder if he shouldn’t be a little more cautious after Chris Christie hung the Revel round his own neck two years ago. Still, the issue with the location is not one of environmental impact, but name.
It takes a special sort of person to want to spend $8.15 billion building a casino on Yorkeys Knob.
Casino In Cairns In Doubt
• Fungs want to spend $8.15 billion
• Mega resort to be built on Yorkeys Knob
• Approval still not yet final
It is either an indication of the times in which we live, or perhaps just my own cynical nature, that makes me groan in despair when I think of the lame attempts a humor that the marketing people will come up with when faced with a name like Yorkeys Knob. It remains to be seen if even the famed bawdy sense of humor possessed by the great Australian public will tolerate what are sure to be quite horrifically unfunny attempts to be “suggestive” whilst using the word ‘knob’.
So with the site inappropriately named after the wedding-tackle of someone called Yorkey, and the visual impact being that of a idealized Swiss casino on Planet Of The Gamblers the 350 hectare project isn’t off to the best of starts and the whilst that Co-ordintor General is satisfied they’ll mitigate any negative effects on the Great Barrier Reef, there are still a whole host of other hurdles over which the Fung family will have to clamber if they want to go ahead with what could well be folly.
Will The Fung Guys See Their Money Mushroom?
The condition that locals must get first priority for employment and training seems sensible enough and the local council will doubtless be glad of the assistance the casino project offers in the way of water and sewage infrastructure, however whilst the local council has been quite welcoming of the proposal there are others who aren’t as certain about this rival to internet betting in Australia, nor its possible effects on the community.
Queensland itself has issues too at the state level where issues over probity has meant the Fung’s deal to buy up the nearby Reef Casino didn’t so much fall through as come to a juddering halt, leaving the pair to scramble around looking at the alternatives. The alternative this time seemingly the Casino Canberra for which they are in the process of purchasing so they assure us, although having already said to have spent $30 million on “design” and got a space station, one wonders what the probity of that buy up will turn up.
The probity process’s confidentiality rules regretfully don’t allow us to speculate as whether the same fate will befall this attempt as last, but for the Fungs, who want to start construction on their 7,500 room hotels, aquarium and theatres, as well as the literally staggering number of gaming tables and opportunities just as soon as possible, their optimism continues to drive them onward and the land itself will set them back another $40 million which will seal their involvement.
In whatever direction Australian gambling laws suddenly lurch under direction of Mr. Abbot and his party, federal approval for the project may still become necessary as pressures to examine more than just the environmental impact grow. Certainly the one undeniable fence that still stands un-jumped between the Fungs and their fantastic future betting behemoth is that as yet they’ve not got a casino license and they’re going to need one if they want to see their massive capital investment pay off in Cairns.