Canberra casino relaunches with $14 million refurbishmentVice-president and general manager of the Canberra casino refurbishment Rhiannon Bach. Ms Bach was poached from a major casino in Macau. Photo: Jay Cronan

Canberra casino relaunches with $14 million refurbishment

Canberra casino will reopen to the public on Friday after a $14 million refurbishment aimed at drawing international gamblers to Canberra.

On Thursday night, casino owner Aquis Entertainment and Cox Architecture firm hosted an opening party for more than 600 guests, with proceeds donated to Lifeline Canberra and the Ricky Stuart Foundation.

Canberra casino manager Rhiannon Bach, who was poached to oversee the refurbishment from a major casino in Macau, said the refurbishment would surprise many.

“Quite frankly, this casino is unrecognisable from what it used to,” she said. “I will be blunt, when I came to this casino from Macau I thought to myself this is the worst casino I have ever seen in my life.”

“But it has potential and the opportunity to do this refurbishment was a chance to create space worthy of the nation’s capital.”

Ms Bach said the company hoped the arrival of international flights at Canberra Airport would transform the local economy and tourism.

“There is a great opportunity with international flights from Singapore and that will draw extra people to the casino besides locals,” she said.

The refurbishment comes amid a $330 million bid to build a new casino with two hotels, restaurants and resort-style entertainment.

Hong-Kong based Aquis Entertainment claims the project would bring an extra 750,000 visitors a year including high-end Chinese gamblers.

The development hinged on approval for poker machines at the casino, which the ACT government agreed to in early May, effectively breaking clubs’ stranglehold on machines.

The move has angered Canberra clubs who have relied on gambling profit to stay afloat and reinvest in the community.

The Canberra Vikings Group has already proposed an ambitious development project in Canberra’s south with profits falling dramatically and poker machines destined for Canberra casino.

Ms Bach said the refurbishment was a small insight into the future of the Canberra casino district.

“I think that the level of quality that you will see here is what we will bring should the redevelopment go forward,” she said.

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