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Morris won’t sell Townsville Casino

Thu, Sep 1, 3:36pm by Staff Writer

Townsville casino owner Chris Morris is pressing ahead with his $35 million redevelopment after rejecting offers from ‘tyre kickers’ to buy the resort property.

Mr Morris said “I’ve had a number of people make approaches since I bought it but they’ve just been tyre kickers”

“I wouldn’t be spending $35 million redeveloping it if I was thinking about selling it, I can tell you that.”

The development will include three new restaurants, a poolside function space for 700 people, an infinity-edge pool with private cabanas and swim-up bar and an elevated deck connecting the pool to the lobby level.  Demolition work is due to begin next week.

The Computershare founder bought The Ville Resort-Casino in 2014 for $70 million as part of big investments into North Queensland tourism ventures.

Chinese interests had been linked to a possible acquisition of the casino’s licence in the development site next to the hotel, but despite once saying that poker machines had “destroyed” the traditional pub business and describing the Townsville property as the ‘worst performing casino in Australia’ he said he was not about to give up the casino’s gaming licence.

“The licence is for the Townsville casino – you can’t go and move it somewhere else,” he told the Townsville Bulletin.

Mr Morris said he was spending enough money on his Townsville property already and would like to see someone buy and develop the adjacent vacant 2.9ha site.

A crackdown on corruption by the Chinese government has altered the outlook for casinos targeting Asian VIP customers and the appetite for that experience.

That has seen plans scrapped for a second casino in Cairns, also in north Queensland,

Sources say the business model for other new casinos in Queensland has collapsed.


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