Casino operator The Star Entertainment group has posted a 44 per cent drop in full-year profit to $148 million, although international high rollers have returned in record numbers.
Profit was impacted by debt restructuring costs and expenses relating to the opening of a Gold Coast hotel.
But the company, which operates casinos in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Brisbane, saw a 54.3 per cent rise in international VIP gamblers, with the money they brought to play with rising 36.4 per cent to $4.7 billion.
While the high rollers were on a winning streak, the casino recorded an “abnormally low” house-win rate of 1.16 per cent in the segment – down from 1.59 per cent a year earlier.
Excluding the abnormal win rate and one-off items, the Star’s normalised earnings rose by 14.2 per cent to $588 million, while normalised revenue rose 15.3 per cent to $2.69 billion.
“A third of our business is in international high rollers and the win rate can swing around a lot,” Star’s CEO Matt Bekier told AAP on Friday.
“In the fullness of time, it always normalises around that win rate of 1.35 per cent.”
Mr Bekier said it was encouraging that Chinese high rollers were returning to Australia after the 2017 detention of Crown Casino group employees in China sent visitor numbers tumbling.
“Even though we were not involved, we share a lot of customers with (Crown) and a lot of customers said: ‘Well we aren’t going to go to Australia for a while,'” Mr Beiker said.
“In 2017, our business was impacted by those detentions but now we’ve returned back to normal.”
Meanwhile, the Star’s domestic revenue rose 4.1 per cent, with poker machine revenue up 5.5 per cent, table revenue in Queensland up 6.3 per cent and non-gaming revenue up 15.2 per cent.
The Star’s Gold Coast casino received a boost from the city hosting the Commonwealth Games, while it also nabbed the Logies awards show from Crown’s Melbourne Casino.
“The property was called Jupiters up until about 18 months ago, so both the Commonwealth Games and the Logies were great opportunities for us to really drive the rebranding and showcase the new assets,” Mr Beiker said.
Star declared a fully-franked final dividend of 13 cents per share, up from 8.5 cents per share a year ago.
By 1215 AEST, Star Entertainment shares were up 25 cents, or 5.1 per cent, to $5.25.
HIGH ROLLERS RETURN TO THE STAR:
* Net profit down 44pct to $148m
* Normalised net profit up 20.3pct to $258m
* Revenue up 6.1pct to $2.58b
* Final dividend of 13 cents per share, up 4.5 cents from year ago