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Packer's Crown profits surge on Macau gamblers

Crown Resorts reports 65.7 per cent surge in full-year profits; gambling empire's net profit in the 12 months to June 30 comes in at A$655.8 million (S$761 million).

SYDNEY: Billionaire James Packer's Crown Resorts reported a 65.7 per cent surge in full-year profits Thursday (Aug 14), driven by strong earnings growth at its Macau joint venture. The worldwide gambling empire's net profit in the 12 months to June 30 came in at A$655.8 million (S$761 million), although weak consumer sentiment hurt trade at its Melbourne and Perth casinos.

Chief executive Rowen Craigie said the result was buoyed another strong year in Macau, where the company co-owns Melco Crown Entertainment with Hong Kong businessman Lawrence Ho. "Overall, the results for the year were satisfactory, with improved trading in the second half in Australia and another strong year in Macau," he said. "We continue to see weak consumer sentiment that has adversely impacted trading at both Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth, and which reflects the fact that their local economies are continuing to experience structural and cyclical challenges."

In Australia, gamblers are tightening spending as the economy cools at the end of a long mining boom, and as unemployment edges higher.

Crown said its share of profits from its stake in Melco Crown rose 91 per cent to A$291.2 million, while gaming revenue was up 1.4 per cent to A$1.5 billion at its Australian operations. The company added that it bought three Bombardier jets at a cost of A$100 million during the year to transport its Asian VIP customers, replacing its existing fleet of Gulfstream planes.

As well as casinos in Melbourne, Perth, and Macau, Packer is also planning one in Sydney, targeting wealthy Asian gamblers, and Manila. He also has his eye on the Japanese market. Earlier this month, Crown paid A$280 million for a prime site on Las Vegas Boulevard in a bid to crack the American casino market.

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