Perth businessman Dallas Dempster, best known for spearheading Burswood Resort and Casino, has died aged 80.
Perth businessman Dallas Dempster, best known for spearheading the development of Perth's Burswood Resort and Casino, has died aged 80.
The Nedlands-born entrepreneur rose to prominence in the 1980s after Tileska, a joint venture he founded alongside Malaysian casino operator Genting Berhad, won a $300 million state government tender to build the state’s first casino.
Burswood Casino was the first legal casino in WA, with the state government having passed legislation to allow it.
Before then, gambling in WA had been confined to underground gaming houses in Northbridge.
Former state premier Brian Burke’s decision to award the tender to Mr Dempster, who identified the site himself, drew the ire of rival bidders and was subject to an investigation during the WA Inc Royal Commission.
The inquiry, however, found no evidence of impropriety or corruption.
Shortly after the casino opened for business, Mr Dempster signed a joint venture with former head of the failed Rothwells Bank Laurie Connell for the development of a petrochemical plant at Kwinana, a project which would also later be examined by the commission.
Following the inquiry, Mr Dempster moved to London for several years before returning to Perth to serve as managing director and major shareholder of Mosman Park-based energy hopeful Hyperion Energy, a company he founded alongside son Dallas Junior in 2010.
Mr Burke told Business News it was a “sad, sad day for Western Australia” and said Mr Dempster would forever be remembered as a driving force behind what was an important project for WA.
“He was an affable, very pleasant man, I never knew him to raise his voice, to get angry about anything,” he said.
“He will forever be remembered as the driving force behind the Burswood Casino development, an important project for the state of Western Australia.
“He [Mr Dempster] suffered immensely amid unfair accusations of misbehaviour; of which he was completely cleared - absolutely given a clean bill of health.”
Mr Burke passed on his deepest sympathy to the Dempster family.
He was named among the state’s most influential business leaders by The West Australian newspaper in 2013.
Mr Dempster passed away this morning.