Northern Territory casinos, located in the federal territory between Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland, serve an area of the country that is the third-largest in size but the smallest in terms of population. As of the most recent census, NT is home to around 230,000 citizens, most of whom live in the capital city of Darwin. The territory’s two main industries are tourism and mining. International tourists flock to Darwin and the NT coastline to visit some two-dozen national parks and wildlife habitats.
The two casino properties open in Northern Territory are Skycity Darwin, recently renamed and renovated on the site of the old MGM Grand Darwin, and Lasseters Casino Alice Springs. The nation of Australia is home to the largest concentration of gamblers in the world; a BBC report on the subject shows evidence that as much as 80% of the country’s adult population participate in some form of betting. Northern Territory is home to dozens of dog and horse racing tracks, though the limited population of this federal state (and the fact that most tourists to the area are ecologically- and culturally-minded) means only two traditional gambling venues exist within state lines.
Despite the name, Lasseters Hotel Casino property is actually about a half-hour’s travel time from Alice Springs proper. Because of the property’s distance from the closest metro area, visitors are encouraged to arrange their own transportation (rental cars are available in Alice Springs) or take advantage of the entertainment centre’s free shuttle service from Todd Mall.
Casino gamblers used to the huge gaming floors in Las Vegas or other world betting venues may see this Alice Springs property as a bit on the small side, though the casino is typical for resort-casino centres in Australia.
250 pokies and other machines (video poker and other skill games) make up the majority of the casino’s offerings. Lasseters Alice Springs has a small head to head poker room, a feature that’s not as common in Australian casinos as elsewhere in the world. The betting floor of just over 13,000 square feet also hosts twenty total table games: three variants of roulette (American, European, and French),a couple of blackjack variations, a traditional and a mini-baccarat game, a couple of versions of casino-style poker, standard Australian-rules Two Up, keno, craps, and Sic Bo.
Unlike most Australian casinos, the casino is open for limited hours. The table games section is open from 2 PM – 3 AM during the week, staying open for an extra hour on Fridays and Saturdays. The area set aside for pokies and machine gambling opens at 10 AM seven days a week and closes at 3 AM except for Fridays and Saturdays when it closes at 4 AM.
Lasseters is considered a luxury destination, though the accommodations are designed to mirror the property’s outback surroundings. A variety of room styles are available to hotel guests, from standard rooms that can sleep up to three guests up to deluxe suites taking up half of a floor near the top of the hotel’s tower. All rooms come with free Wi-Fi and complimentary tea and coffee service.
The natural beauty of the area around Alice Springs is a major selling point for guests to Lasseters, though the attached casino complex draws in its fair share of both domestic and international travellers. Views of the nearby MacDonnell Range are available from almost all of the hotel’s rooms. Part of the Lasseters complex is on the Range itself.
In contract to Lasseters near Alice Springs, Skycity is a resort and gambling complex spread across 18 acres in the more cosmopolitan area of Darwin.
Skycity is Darwin’s only casino and the larger of the two gambling venues in the Northern Territory. The casino’s three gaming rooms are each set aside for a different type of game. In one room, gamblers can pick from a collection of three dozen tables for standards like roulette and blackjack. The largest room of the three holds 1,400-plus pokies and machine-based games. The third room, where fifty or so keno games run around the clock, is the biggest keno parlour in the nation.
A total of 1,496 gaming machines (at the time of this writing) is further divided into three types of games. Nearly 800 pokies, forty video poker games, and a few hundred skill type games that include slot-video poker hybrids and other unique titles are spread across the machine gaming area.
Of the three dozen tables hosting classic casino games, the casino’s website promises at least thirty open around the clock; unlike Lasseters Alice Springs property, Skycity is open twenty-four hours a day all year except for Christmas, Easter, and Anzac Day.
The variety of table games is impressive, especially considering only thirty games are open at any given time. Multiple versions of roulette are available on both single zero and double zero wheels. Gamblers looking for low stakes games (as low as AUD $2.00) can only play on American-style double zero wheels, with Euro rules games requiring a minimum bet of AUD $5- $10 per hand. The casino’s private gaming area is home to high roller variations of several games including roulette, with minimum bets set at AUD $50.
Skycity’s table games room is home to thirteen blackjack tables offering wagers as low as AUD $5. Blackjack players looking for higher stakes can place bets up to AUD $1,000 in the VIP room. Casino-style poker games, including four Caribbean Stud tables and a handful of other variations, are available for bets as low as AUD $5 up to a table maximum of AUD $200 per round.
Skycity Darwin’s hotel complex has 107 guest rooms, four restaurants, five bars, and an 18-hole golf course.
Tourists to the country’s Northern Territory are a big part of the territory’s economy. Though many of the tourists are coming to see the natural landscapes, mountains, rock formations, waterfalls, wildlife, and aboriginal cultural sites, the two casinos in the state are a big draw as well.
The two major casino properties in Darwin and Alice Springs are a recent addition to the state’s tourist industry. The government of Australia reports an average of 1.5 million tourists per year, spending more than one and a half billion dollars visiting the capital city of Darwin, the interior regions, and the many landmark sites like Ayers Rock and Alice Springs. Continuously populated for thirty-thousand years, the Northern Territory is a big draw for visitors interested in the nation’s history.