VIP gamblers help top up the coffers

JAMES PACKER'S casino operation, Crown Ltd, reported a 53 per cent increase in reported net profit to $513.3 million for the year to June 30, boosted by a winning streak against VIP gamblers.

JAMES PACKER'S casino operation, Crown Ltd, reported a 53 per cent increase in reported net profit to $513.3 million for the year to June 30, boosted by a winning streak against VIP gamblers.

But the company tempered the better-then-expected result with warnings of higher costs and subdued consumer spending.

Despite reporting it experienced the same second-half slowdown in high-roller activity recorded in Singapore and Macau, Crown said an above theoretical win rate against the VIPs delivered close to $100 million extra in underlying earnings at its Melbourne and Perth casinos.

On a normalised basis, the company said net profit increased 22 per cent to $415 million. Crown's Macau joint venture, Melco Crow, delivered a $135.8 million equity accounted profit but its normalised contribution was $92 million.

In Australia, Crown felt the impact of softening activity in the second half on the main gaming floor, and in non-gaming areas, which it blamed on weak consumer sentiment and the disruption from its $2 billion refurbishment program.

The chief executive, Rowen Craigie, described the results for Crown in Melbourne and Perth's Burswood casino as mixed. "During the year, we saw reasonable revenue growth at both properties, although in some areas this was offset by higher operating costs," he said.

Crown Melbourne was the main culprit with normalised earnings up 1 per cent for the year to $510.6 million, while its Perth casino reflected the stronger consumer sentiment and a better VIP performance, with normalised earnings at Burswood increasing 16 per cent to $226 million.

Crown recognised $20.1 million gain for the year to June 30 on the stakes it held in Tabcorp and Echo. Crown said it had "substantially reduced" its stake in Tabcorp and expects to completely unwind it "in short order".

Related Articles