Chinese developers allowed to buy land for $4.2bn casino resort near Cairns

Foreign Investment Review Board approves application by Aquis to buy 340 hectares at Yorkeys Knob     .

Chinese developers have been given the green light to buy land for a planned $4.2bn mega-resort and casino in far north Queensland.

The Foreign Investment Review Board has approved an application by Aquis to purchase 340 hectares of land for its development at Yorkeys Knob, near Cairns.

The Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort would include nine luxury hotels, an 18-hole golf course, a 25,000-seat stadium and a cultural heritage centre. The chief executive of Aquis, Justin Fung, said the company would take full ownership of the land once plans for the project were approved and a casino licence secured.

The company signed a $269m takeover bid agreement last week with the Reef Casino Trust, which owns the Reef Hotel Casino in Cairns.

Aquis hopes a bid to extend the Reef Casino licence to include the mega-resort is successful.

As a back-up it has also applied for one of two new regional Queensland casino licences on offer by the state government. Locals have raised concerns the project will not withstand a cyclone, will increase problem gambling, may damage the Great Barrier Reef and could hurt the region’s nature-based tourism industry.

Those in favour of the resort say it will bring much-needed jobs to the region and boost tourism. Aquis’ owner, the Hong Kong-based billionaire Tony Fung, has said the resort would rival the great man-made structures seen in Dubai and Singapore and would attract big spenders from China.