Chinese billionaire gets first regulatory approval for Australia casino

Thu Dec 18, 2014 3:16am EST
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SYDNEY (Reuters) - A proposed A$8 billion ($6.52 billion) Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort, backed by Honk Kong billionaire Tony Fung, was on Thursday granted regulatory approval by an Australian state planning department - clearing its first legislative hurdle.

The Queensland Coordinator-General approved the environmental design of Aquis, with the state finding the proposed project posed no unacceptable risk to the Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia's main tourist destinations.

Aquis plans to build a Macau-style casino and resort, home to 7,500 hotel rooms, theaters, conference centers and a sporting precinct with an 18-hole golf course.

The project sill needs to clear several regulatory hurdles, with the issuance of a casino license the most notable.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Robert Birsel)