Profit is fading at James Packer’s Crown as high rollers become scarce

Macau gaming. Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images

High rollers aren’t throwing cash at gaming tables in Australia like they used to.

Crown Resorts, controlled by billionaire James Packer, today posted a 75% rise in net profit to $359.14 million for the six months to December.

However, normalised net profit after tax was $191.3 million, down 9.1%. This excludes a gain from significant items of $176.3 million, mainly from the sale of shares in Melco Crown Entertainment, which has the troubled Macau gaming holding.

Crown Resorts has an agreement with Melco International Development, controlled by Lawrence Ho, the son of gambling pioneer Stanley Ho, for the sale of 13.4% of Melco Crown Entertainment at $US6 a share. Crown’s shareholding will be reduced to 14% from 27.4%.

The deal will bring in $1.6 billion, which Crown will use to cut debt and return funds to shareholders.

In early trade, Crown shares were up 6% to $12.10.

Revenue at Crown Resorts was down 5.% to $1.77 billion for the six months.

Total revenue at Australian resorts fell by 12.5% to $1.48 billion, mainly due to a 45.3% fall in VIP program play revenue to $19.6 billion.

“Main floor gaming revenue also decreased by 0.8%, with modest revenue growth in Melbourne offset by softness in Perth,” says John Alexander, the executive chairman of Crown.

The company declared an interim dividend of 30 cents a share and a special dividend of 83 cents. Crown also plans an on-market share buy-back of about $500 million.

Here’s the detail on the half year results:

Source: Crown Resorts