Without even rolling a dice Australia’s richest man and gambling “whale”, Mr Kerry Packer, continues to clean up at Melbourne’s Crown casino.
Crown, the mini-city that towers above the Yarra River, enjoyed $22.5 million windfall from the international high-roller business, with a win percentage of 1.39 per cent compared with the theoretical rate of 1.28 per cent.
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All of Australia’s casinos do their best to attract big gamblers, but Crown makes special efforts to attract them. It has an array of agents whose sole job is to bring in droves of gamblers and they arrive by the Lear-jet load from Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and other parts of the globe.
Crown lays on free first-class air travel, free accommodation and gourmet dining, sporting events, its own prized golf course and other ticketing benefits.
When Mr Packer unveiled Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd’s full-year results on Wednesday, it wasn’t his media empire that shone – Crown casino Pengeluaran HK cstole the limelight.
It’s a segment of the gambling market Queensland’s Jupiters Ltd is also chasing aggressively after enjoying a $10 million windfall for the second consecutive year as Lady Luck favoured the house over high-rollers.
“The high-roller business has been fantastic for us, we’ve been on a winning streak,” said the chief executive of Jupiters, Mr Rob Hines. “We’re actively marketing the high-roller business in Asia – we have people there.
“We’re putting a big investment into it and we think it is a very significant and important part of our business.”
But not all those chasing the high-roller business have found the cards falling their way.
Tabcorp Holdings Ltd, the owner of Sydney’s Star City casino, lost $4.3 million in bottom-line profit last financial year, crashing 36 per cent below the theoretical win rate.
An $8 million loss in the first half and an incremental profit in the second half has since forced the group to pull out of the high-stakes segment.
“We say there’s just not enough business to justify being there, typified by what happened just this year,” said the chief executive of Tabcorp, Mr Ross Wilson.
“Our view is that even if you make theoretical [win rate], the amount of profit you can make out of that business is minuscule by comparison to the risk involved.
“We’re in the gambling business, not the business of gambling. The risks are just too high.”
Perth casino operator Burswood Ltd yesterday posted a 31 per cent slump in net profit to $22.1 million after a $25 million revenue slump in the high-roller business.
The managing director, Mr John Schaap, said revenue from the international commission business, pioneered by Burswood in 1985, fell from $79.3 million to $54.5 million. Turnover dropped 3.4 per cent to $5.1 billion.
Burswood, which has Mr Packer as a small shareholder, has no intention of withdrawing from the high-roller business. It has instead been attempting to extract more competitive tax rates for the overseas junket business.
But the West Australian Premier Dr Geoff Gallop’s anti-gambling stance has resulted in fresh concerns that the Government might instead exercise its legislative right to increase Burswood’s casino tax rate by one percentage point a year from this year to 20 per cent.