16 Feb 2011

Casino profit drops in slow economy

7:34 pm on 16 February 2011

The economic slowdown in New Zealand and Australia has led to a fall in half-year profit at casino operator Sky City Entertainment Group.

The company made $67.1 million in the six months to December, a decrease of 6% on the same period a year ago.

Stripping out a contribution from its now sold cinema operations, the listed company's underlying profit rose 2% to $67.4 million.

Revenue rose 3% to $448 million, with growth in Adelaide and Hamilton partly offseting a fall at Darwin due to the introduction of a smoking ban.

Sky City chief executive Nigel Morrision says earnings at its flagship Auckland casino remained flat, as the subdued economy deterred local gamblers, although turnover doubled from high rollers, mainly from Asia.

He says revenue rose 9% for the first six weeks of this year compared with the same period a year ago.

Looking ahead, Sky City expects a full year profit of $127.4 million, compared with last year's normalised profit of $129 million.

A dividend payout of 8 cents a shares has been declared.