Town blows $14m on pokies, not counting Alice’s biggest gambling place

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By ERWIN CHLANDA

Gamblers playing the pokies in Alice Springs clubs and pubs lost almost $14m in 2022-23.

This doesn’t include the poker machines in Lasseters Casino whose data “cannot be provided due to commercial-in-confidence,” according to the Department of
Industry, Tourism and Trade.

That is clearly a huge multiple of the disclosed figure.

Meanwhile Indigenous punters are more than five times as likely to have a gambling problem when compared to non-Indigenous gamers.

At 2pm yesterday the News visited the casino. It was Friday, a working day. I saw about 100 people in the gaming room, some 80% of them Aboriginal.

Venues can have up to 55 machines if they have a club liquor licence.

Pubs, namely Gapview Hotel and Todd Tavern in Alice Springs, holding a hotel liquor licence, can now have 20 pokies – a number doubled on June 21, a decision now under appeal by the No Pokies in Mparntwe group.

Since purchasing Lasseters Casino in Alice Springs in 2021, Iris Capital has added almost 150 pokies to the venue, bringing the total number of machines there to 400 (Google Search, June 6). 

The government is setting no limits on the number of the pokies the casinos here can install: “Gaming machines in the NT’s two casinos are not included in the cap limit,” says the department

That means the casino now has 10 times as many machines as the two pubs put together yet the losses of Lasseter’s clientele are a secret.

What’s the point of telling the public, to the accuracy of one, the losses outside the casino – $13,887,055 last financial year – while hiding the losses in by the vastly biggest gambling place of the town? That is something that Minister Chancey Paech may like to explain.

Aboriginal gamblers were significantly more likely to experience problem gambling, with 5.3% classified as experiencing a problem, compared with 0.9% for non-Indigenous gamblers, according to Philip Timney, Director of Gaming Machines.

The Alice Springs News is seeking comment from Iris Capital.

AT TOP: Image from an unauthorised video taken about 10 years ago in the Alice Springs Casino and published in the Alice Springs News.

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