Companies bet on net gambling

Online gambling's popularity is such a sure bet, two players, Lasseters Casino and Gamble.com, are confident their respective floats will raise millions for product development and technology.

The operator of Australia's first regulated online casino, Lasseters Holdings Limited, wants to raise $40 million to support its global expansion.

A total of 40 million shares will be offered at $1 each, comprising 10 million existing shares and 30 million new shares.

The listing would value the company at $117.5 million. The current shareholders, the Malaysian-based Tan brothers who have a number of international entertainment and gaming interests, will retain 66 per cent of the equity, according to a Lasseters spokesperson.

The Lasseters Group owns and operates the Lasseters Online gaming site as well as the Lasseters Hotel Casino in Alice Springs, both of which are licensed by the Northern Territory Government.

Lasseters Online's general manager, David Ohlson, said the majority of funds raised through the offer would be used to retire debt as well as invest in marketing and systems development for the online business, which is set to embark into Asia and Europe.

"We are concentrating on using innovative online marketing techniques to attract new players and encourage existing players to return. We plan to invest $6.4 million in international marketing between July and December this year," Ohlson said.

Launched in April last year, Lasseters Online reported turnover of more than $40 million to January 31 -- exceeding the turnover from the tables in its bricks-and-mortar casino.

A spokesperson from the company said Lasseters Online had 42,000 registered members from 195 countries.

According to prospectus forecasts, the Group's total revenue is anticipated to grow by 44 per cent to $29.4 million in the current financial year. A $6.6 million contribution from Lasseters Online would account for 22 per cent of total revenue, the company said.

The offer is expected to open on April 3 and close on April 19. The company hopes to list in early May.

Melbourne-based Gamble.com.au plans to raise $16 million through its float by the sale of 32 million 50 cent shares.

Gamble.com.au, which has one of three online gambling licences issued by the Vanuatu Government, will offer casino games such as blackjack, video slot machines, poker and roulette.

Following the IPO, Gamble.com.au's directors will own 55 per cent of the company. Clubs Victoria, a coalition of more than 500 sports clubs and other venues, will own 2.9 per cent, and a group of Melbourne business people, who recently invested $3 million in the company, will have 15 per cent.

The company said it expects to gain tax advantages over its local competitors through its Vanuatu licence.

The Senate Select Committee on Information Technologies Inquiry into Online Gaming recently recommended Australia introduce a national regulatory approach to online gaming.http://www.lasseters.com.auhttp://www.gamble.com.au

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