19 Jan

History and Development of Pokies in Alice Springs

Commonly referred to by the endearing moniker “Alice”, the town of Alice Springs was named after Lady Alice Todd, and is the third largest town in the Northern Territory. That wasn’t always the case though, and Alice’s population has historically been on the short side. There is a report from the early 20th century that suggests when the first car arrived in town, the town’s population was “very excited” — all 15 of them. There were aborigines living in this area that are not included in that number, and indeed these native Australians have called Alice Springs home for many years, but even their numbers have never been that great in this part of the world.

The gambling history of Alice Springs is therefore on the short side, but this area did begin to expand in the 1950s. During that expansion, and over the next couple of decades, the government of the Northern Territory decided that they needed to attract tourists into the state to increase its wealth and to help it grow. Gambling provided them with some answers, and their ultimate solution was to license casinos in the state, one of which was in the town of Alice Springs.

These days the highlight of gambling in Alice Springs revolves around the Lasseters Hotel and Casino. This resort was founded back in 1981 and was once known as the Diamond Springs Casino, among other names. This beautiful resort is the go-to destination for many local gamblers, and it is also a hotspot for tourists, many of which stay within the resort itself. Lasseters isn’t just about gambling and it is a very good hotel as well, so much so that it won a Tourism Award in 2013. Guests can choose from a standard room all the way up to a premium suite, with many options in between. Guests are unlikely to spend much time in their room though, not when there are hundreds of pokies waiting for them on the casino floor.

The casino opens everyday at 10:00am, and as well as plenty of table games, TAB, Keno and a great deal of live sporting action, the Lasseters stocks the latest and greatest pokies. High-rollers may even find themselves invited to the Diamond Lounge, which is the Lasseters’ VIP suite and offers even more gaming machines, along with upgraded service and seating.

Alice Springs has come a long way in the last hundred years or so. Where pokies are concerned, these gaming machines have practically risen out of the dirt, coming from further afield and introduced to the citizens of this Northern Territory town via a plush and modern casino. The older generation were a little unsure of these games when they first arrived, but it’s fair to assume that many of them tried them, and even fairer to assume that they probably loved them. This is a nation that is obsessed with pokies after all.

And what’s there not to love? The 1980s were the golden age for pokies, when they were being dragged from their mechanical pasts, into a future of computer chips, ticket-in, ticket-out, progressive jackpots and excitement that can rival the latest computer games. With flashing lights, seductive sounds and promises of big money wins, these new machines were exactly what the region needed to pump some money into the tax coffers, Conversation Starters and to make sure that the tourists continued to flock into Alice Springs, and continued to spend their money whilst they were there. These days the best pokies in Alice Springs still come courtesy of its only casino, and away from standard pokies there are also electronic games of roulette and other casino classics that have been converted into an electronic format.

Once Lasseters Casino began attracting gamblers, then the pubs and clubs followed. As is the case across most of Australia, these venues usually have a pokie or two in them, and some of the locations in Alice Springs that have gaming machines include the Alice Springs Memorial Club and the Bojangles Saloon and Restaurant.

Alice Springs may be a small town, but as far as pokies and gambling goes, it has enough going for it to compete with the biggest gambling towns and cities in Australia.