Lasseters Alice Springs Casino Sells For $105 Million

The iconic casino in Alice Springs has new owners

One of Australia’s most iconic casinos has sold for a fee of approximately $105 million. Lasseters Hotel Casino, formerly the Diamond Springs Casino in Alice Springs, changes owners 24-years after its last sale.

Ford Dynasty, a subsidiary of Lasseters International Holdings, signed an agreement with Iris Captial to sell the casino for $105 million. Irish Capital has a major foothold in the Australian hospitality section already. Adding this casino to its portfolio strengthens its presence further.

Lasseters wanted to offload the casino in Alice Springs for some time. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced the company’s hand, in addition to stricter regulation.

“The gaming sector in Australia is highly regulated. Recent events in this sector and the issues with the other casino operator in Melbourne in relation to regulatory inquiry on alleged money laundering and possible links to organised crime may have an impact on financial institutions risk appetite in financing this sector.”

The other casino operator in Melbourne, which the statement alluded to, is Crown Resorts. The James Packer controlled gambling giant is the subject of a royal commission following a damning inquiry into its affairs.

Uncertainty Around Alice Springs Taxation Spurs On Sale

A perfect storm of global financial uncertainty, plus that on a local level, resulted in Lasseters cashing in. The Alice Springs casino operator’s agreement with the Northern Territory government ends in July. Furthermore, a new tax review date, which could see a hike in rate, is due.

“This is an inherent risk, and there is uncertainty around the possibility of an increase in gaming tax on the tax review date, which may affect the long-term viability of the business.”

Lasseters purchased the casino in Alice Springs in 1997, 16-years after it opened to the public. Subsequently, the casino featured in the worldwide hit The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, in 1994.

There has been much development of the property since its grand opening 40 years ago. It features a 4.5-star hotel, casino, and the Alice Springs Convention Centre. The hotel boasts of 205 guest room, a pool, spa, sauna, fitness centre, in addition to bars and restaurants.

Gamblers are well-catered for with a plethora of 320 pokies and gaming tables.

CEO of Lasseters, Datuk Paul Wong, paid tribute to the Alice Springs staff.

“It has been a pleasure having such a unique and diverse property on our portfolio. Lasseters greatest asset is the dedication and commitment of the staff, some of whom have been with the company in excess of 20 years.”

Hotel and Casino Bolsters Iris Capital’s Portfolio

Iris Capital specialises in the hospitality sector and has numerous properties throughout Australia. Aussie entrepreneur Sam Arnaout launched the company in 1995, and it has gone from strength to strength.

The company boasts of more than 2,000 luxury apartments, three vineyards, and 25 thriving hotels.

Alice Springs Operations and Alice Springs Property are the two companies taking control of the hotel and casino. The former Lasseters property is the centre of entertainment in Alice Springs, and locals have high hopes for what Iris’ input brings.

Iris Capital is capitalising on lower prices for key properties. Almost all hotels and casinos lost money during the height of the pandemic, which drove their valuations down. Iris spent $180 million acquiring 17 Ibis hotels last year.

It has several ongoing developments in Newcastle, Kings Cross, and Bondi Junction. Irish recently completed Stage 1 of its Newcastle redevelopment. Stage 2 is located at the site of Newcastle’s Lyrique theatre. Kings Cross is where Iris is involved in a 139 premium apartment complex. In addition, the Bondi Junction complex offers luxurious 1, 2, and 3-bedroom apartments in a much sought after location.