Australia’s Latest Billionaires List Includes New Gaming Entrepreneurs

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Posted on: March 24, 2023, 08:52h. 

Last updated on: March 24, 2023, 03:27h.

An updated list of the 250 richest people in Australia includes 139 billionaires. While some names, like James Packer, continue to represent the casino segment, a few rising stars in the gaming world have made their debuts.

Iris Capital owner Sam Arnaout stands outside one of his properties
Iris Capital owner Sam Arnaout stands outside one of his properties. He is one of two gaming entrepreneurs to become billionaires in Australia. (Image: The Australian)

The list, released by The Australian, shows a record with its number of billionaires. The country’s economy is coming off year-on-year growth of 6%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Gina Rinehart, the mining magnate and somewhat controversial figure, topped the list. She’s worth over AU$32.64 billion (US$21.73 billion), partly thanks to a decision not to sponsor Netball Australia.

Rinehart is behind Hancock Prospecting, a mining company that had been working on a sponsorship deal with the sports organization for AU$15 million (US$10 million). The mogul backed out in response to a backlash against her late father, Lang Hancock.

He said years ago that all indigenous Australians should be sterilized so they would “breed themselves out.”

New Faces

But two familiar gaming names also top the list.

Sam Arnaout, the man behind Iris Capital,  is now worth AU$2.3 billion (US$1.5 billion), according to The Australian.

Iris Capital owns over 30 bars and 20 hotels, as well as several casinos. It bought Casino Canberra just over a year ago for AU$63 million (US$42 million), and it’s paying off, despite a few setbacks.

As it has expanded deeper into gaming, Iris has sought ways to increase its gambling footprint. This has included the addition of slot machines. But it’s having difficulty finding enough bureaucratic support to meet its goals. Iris has been able to add more machines, although it has come up shorter than it hoped on the number.

Edward Craven, with a net worth of AU$2.01 billion (US$1.34 billion), is also featured on the list. Craven is behind the controversial gaming platform Stake.com.

Stake.com, which routinely boasts million-dollar bets by music artist Drake, is big into cryptocurrency and betting. It cannot legally offer gaming in Australia, meaning all its revenue reportedly comes from other countries and territories.

Proposed Bill

New South Wales will hold political elections this weekend, which will inarguably lead to changes for the gambling industry in the state. At the same time, federal legislation is underway that could alter the landscape across Australia.

A bill supported by two parliamentarians, long-time anti-gambling pundits Andrew Wilkie and Rebekha Sharkie, would force online gaming operators to play a larger role in anti-money laundering and responsible gambling policies. Under the legislation, operators would have to ensure they aren’t receiving any money from criminal activity.

The online gaming apps would also have to periodically remind users how long they have been gambling and how much they have lost.

The bill would also prohibit using credit cards on online gaming platforms. This prohibition is already a common practice in many countries.

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