RealTime IT News

All Bets Are On for Lasseters ASX Debut

Alice Springs-based casino operator Lasseters Online will be hoping the Australian Stock Exchange is a sure bet when it lists at a valuation of AUS$117.5 million (US$71.3 million) next month.

Lasseters will offer 40 million of its shares at AUS$1 each, amounting to 35 per cent of total equity. Majority ownership of the company will remain with three brothers from the Tan family in Singapore.

Unusually for an Internet float, the company expected to hit profitability in the second half of 2000 - partially due to half of its revenues coming from its bricks-and-mortar casino in Alice Springs.

David Ohlson, GM of Lasseters Online, said the consolidated revenue for the last six months of 2000 was projected to be AUS$27.3 million (US$16.5 million), of which AUS$14.5 million (US$8.8 million) would come from online activities, leading to a half-yearly profit of AUS$1.9 million (US$1.15 million).

"The first thing is, we are a combination of a physical casino which has been operating since 1983, plus there is the online element, where the excitement really comes in for the investor," Mr Ohlsen told internet.com.

"We've been growing at 40 per cent month to month, and we're taking AUS$50 million [US$30 million] in bets per month," he said. Mr Ohlsen added that the company would spend AUS$10 million (US$6 million) on marketing this year.

Only 0.3 per cent of the online revenue of Lasseters - amounting to less than AUS$5000 (US$3000) - comes from Australian Internet gamblers. This is because of restrictive Australian licensing regulations which means that only residents in the northern part of the Northern Territory (which contains less than 50,000 adults) are allowed to gamble real money on Lasseters' site.

The majority of the online casino's revenues came from US players, followed by European and then Asian gamblers.

"We see Asia as a huge untapped market," said Mr Ohlsen. "We all know Asians like to gamble, but there are barriers like telecommunications, lack of access to PCs and credit cards which are holding it back. We expect it to take off in one to two years."

The offer of shares is scheduled to open on the third of April, close on the 19th and list on the fourth of May. Macquarie will be the underwriting party, and although Mr Ohlson expected the offer to be oversubscribed, he said he would leave it to the underwriters as to whether to close the offer early.