SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd chief executive Graeme Stephens has voiced concern that revenue from VIP gamblers may be curbed by official investigations of dealings by the Australian gaming industry with operators of gambling junkets that have alleged links to Chinese criminal organisations, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
SkyCity Entertainment is a company in New Zealand which runs three casinos there and one in Australia, where most of its foreign patrons are Chinese VIPs whose trips are arranged by junket operators.
A report on Wednesday in the online edition of the Sydney Morning Herald quotes Mr Stephens as saying: “We’re not quite sure what’s going to happen in the world of junkets… it’s difficult to ignore the media and related responses in the case of Crown over the last few weeks.”
The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority announced last week that it was launching an investigation to probe the “change in state of affairs” of Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd, “together with various matters raised in recent media reports” published by the Nine Network, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age relating to the gaming firm.
The accounts carried in Australian media since late July alleged Crown Resorts’ Australian casino business had been a conduit for money laundering and Chinese organised crime activities via high-roller gambling. Crown Resorts has denied any misconduct on its part and said it would “fully cooperate” in any inquiry.
Crown Resorts – which has traditionally been strong in high-stakes play – runs a gaming resort in Melbourne, Victoria; one in Perth, Western Australia; and is developing a third at Barangaroo in Sydney, New South Wales.
The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Mr Stephens as telling investors: “We’re not sure what that means for us, so that’s added another layer of uncertainty in a world which is inherently difficult to predict.”
The report quotes the finance chief of SkyCity Entertainment, Rob Campbell, as saying the volatility of the VIP gaming market makes tapping foreign gamblers the riskiest part of the business his company does.
SkyCity Entertainment reported on Wednesday that its annual net profit fell to NZD144.6 million (US$93.13 million) in its financial year ended last June 30, or 14.7 percent less than the year before.
Annual revenue fell by 2.5 percent to NZD905.4 million. The company declared a final dividend of NZD0.10 a share, payable on September 13 to shareholders on record on August 30.
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”While we recognise we have more work to do, we welcome ILGA’s indication today that Crown’s reform implementation is well-advanced towards suitability to operate gaming at Crown Sydney”
Executive chairman of Australian casino operator Crown Resorts