Impact Investment Group (IIG), the investment fund that purchased the famed Beach Hotel in Byron Bay for $70 million, are planning to remove all EGMs from the hotel.
The hotel, sold by businessman Max Twigg in September last year, currently operates 15 gaming machines as part of its offering. Daniel Madhavan, CEO of IIG, said the firm intends to start the divestment process of the EGMs “from the first day the Trust owns the freehold.”
Madhavan said the group had made the decision to remove the EGMs after meeting with anti-gaming advocates.
“We are not the first and we are not the only group to make a choice on this issue. We understand that AFL clubs like Geelong and North Melbourne have moved to get rid of their machines with a positive response from their fans. You can see it in the Tasmanian and South Australian elections where politicians with a popular touch are campaigning against gaming machines. We’re inspired by other leaders, and we hope that other pub landlords will be too.”
While Madhavan would not disclose the revenue the EGMs create for the hotel, he did describe it as “significant”. Australian Hotelier asked how the group is planning to make up for the loss in revenue.
“Firstly, we think that it’s overly short-term, and overly narrow thinking to focus only on revenue from the gaming room. The vision we share with the operators, the Van Haandel family, is for the Beach Hotel to be a vibrant, healthy venue that is sustainable both environmentally and socially. The hotel will share the best values of Byron Bay. Businesses are part of their community, and we believe that in the long run, if a community is unhealthy, the business will be as well.”
He continued: “Specifically, we’re investing in an upgrade for the soon-to-be-former gaming room, to focus on Byron’s great local food and beverage, as well as upgrades to other parts of the hotel. The environmental upgrades will have the bonus of saving on electricity and gas costs, and we think demand outstrips supply of hotel accommodation in Byron, which we hope to capitalise upon. Lastly, we see opportunities to activate other parts of the property, especially the rear, facing Bay lane, although that’s dependant on Council approval.”
IIG’s investors in the Beach Hotel are reportedly on board with the change, as IIG’s ethos is all about environmentally sustainable and vibrant investments. Madhavan stated that since making the announcement new parties have expressed their interest in investing.
“This is an iconic property in a wonderful setting that’s extremely hard to reproduce and investors are responding to the location, the operation and our vision for the future.”