The developers of a proposed $4.2 billion mega-resort in Cairns will apply to extend an existing Cairns casino licence to include the planned resort.

The developers of a proposed $4.2 billion mega-resort and casino in north Queensland are a step closer to buying casinos in Cairns and Canberra.

Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort Group this week signed a $269 million takeover bid agreement with the Reef Casino Trust (RCT) which owns the Reef Hotel Casino.

The trust’s board has unanimously supported the takeover offer.

Aquis, owned by Chinese billionaire Tony Fung, has also separately agreed with Casinos Austria to acquire Casino Canberra.

The company is hopeful the Cairns sale will improve its chances of acquiring a casino licence for its proposed mega-resort at Yorkeys Knob near Cairns.

The planned 340-hectare Aquis Great Barrier Reef Resort includes nine luxury hotels, an 18-hole golf course, a 25,000 seat stadium and a cultural heritage centre.

An Aquis spokesman said the company will apply to extend the Reef Casino licence to include the mega-resort.

They’ve also applied for one of two new regional Queensland casino licences on offer by the state government.

The developers have signalled they will only push forward with the project if the resort is granted a casino licence.

They’re expected to lodge an Environmental Impact Statement with the state government in April or May.

Locals have raised concerns the project won’t 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.

Mr Fung has said the resort would rival great man-made structures seen in Dubai and Singapore and would attract big spenders from China.

The Reef Hotel Casino and Casino Canberra takeover bid is expected to take up to nine months and won’t affect staff numbers at either casinos.