Hong Kong property developer Aquis Resort at the Great Barrier Reef has secured early-stage approval from the Queensland government in Australia for its proposed A$8.15bn ($7.6bn) integrated resort development project in Cairns.

To be developed on a former sugarcane farm, the casino resort is expected to feature 7,500 hotel rooms around an artificial lagoon, plus an 18-hole golf course and water park.

The resort will nearly triple the region’s hotel accommodations and will be bigger than Singapore’s two casino resorts combined, reported Bloomberg.

The completion of the first phase is anticipated by late 2018.

Aquis Resort at the Great Barrier Reef CEO Justin Fung told the news agency, "We are extremely confident that Cairns can be a global destination. This is the closest western city to China."

The project is in line with Chinese investors’ plans to seek new resort opportunities in foreign countries such as Sri Lanka, South Korea, the Philippines and Japan, after Macau government narrowed the gambling market by licensing only six casino operators.

The Queensland government, however, is keen to attract Asian gaming resorts and gambling players, and is planning to issue three new casino licences in a bid to further job growth and offset the predicted drop in government mining royalties due to the slump in coal prices.

The proposed developments are planned in Cairns, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.