Australia’s Northern Territory Says No New Slots Until at Least 2023

Posted on: September 26, 2022, 11:41h. 

Last updated on: September 27, 2022, 05:45h.

The plan to allow new slot machines in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT) is now off the table. The idea was to authorize up to 60 machines in bars and restaurants. But public backlash proved to be greater than authorities expected.

Northern Territory
A sign at the entrance to the Northern Territory in Australia welcomes visitors. The state is suspending applications for slot machine licenses following public backlash. (Image: Shutterstock)

In August, the NT government announced it was considering a proposal allowing Iris Capital to add up to 60 slots in Alice Springs. There was resistance as soon as the announcement was made.

But in a new update from the NT’s gaming minister, Chansey Paech, the government decided to pull the request after receiving around 700 complaints from the state’s citizens. Officials will now head back to the drawing board to put together a new proposal, the product of which will be revealed sometime in the first half of 2023.

The decision doesn’t affect only Iris. The government is suspending the entire licensing program for new slots, meaning no one will be able to apply until NT is ready. Local media reports that this will likely be June of next year.

In the Iris of the Storm

Iris purchased Casino Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory in July, one of several recent acquisitions. The purchases allowed it to expand its Australian footprint greatly. But it wasn’t done.

The company then approached NT about adding the new slots. This was only a few months after it picked up the Lasseters Casino in Alice Springs from Quilter Assets as part of its shopping spree. With that acquisition, it had already gained 132 new slots in the state.

Another 60 would saturate the market and lead to more problem gambling, according to the feedback NT received. According to government figures, there is already one slot for every 94 people in the state without the new machines.

As a result, NT wants to stop and evaluate its licensing process for gambling machines. Paech and other government officials will now undertake that assignment and determine the best course of action.

Online Slots Popularity Rises

For many gambling jurisdictions, slot machines offer guaranteed income. In Las Vegas, for example, the Nevada Gaming Control Board reports that 70% of gamblers are slot players. They’re easy to learn and play, making them a favorite with casino patrons.

As Australia continues to tighten its land-based slot machine market, one of the oldest manufacturers in the industry is embracing the future. Australia-based Aristocrat Leisure Ltd, which dates back to 1953, is advancing its iGaming footprint.

Aristocrat once had its eye on Playtech, but the deal fell through. It’s still targeting the real money gaming (RMG) iGaming segment and announced Monday that it found its latest acquisition.

The company is negotiating the purchase of Anzo Group subsidiary Roxor Gaming Ltd, a London-based B2B online gaming company. The company already has access to the UK and US markets, giving Aristocrat a springboard to advance its RMG ambitions.

The acquisition includes Roxor’s two in-house game development studios and its network of operations and affiliates. Aristocrat didn’t provide the deal’s financials but said it hopes to complete the purchase sometime in the first quarter of next year. That’s only slightly later than it had previously hoped.