Crown’s billionaire chairman James Packer says high win rates are hampering the gaming group’s start to this financial year.
The high rollers are winning too much from James Packer.
Mr Packer says lucky big money punters are denting the performance of his Crown casinos in Melbourne and Perth.
“The punters are killing us,” the billionaire chairman told the Crown Resorts annual general meeting in Perth on Thursday.
He described trading so far this year as “mixed at best”, blaming waning consumer sentiment and the high rollers.
“Our VIP businesses are almost $100 million below the theoretical result less than four months into the financial year, due to an adverse win rate, or put simply, bad luck,” he said.
Crown’s profit grew 66 per cent to $656 million in the 2013/14 year, with strong growth from its Macau joint venture helping offset the flat performance in Australia.
But chief executive Rowen Craigie said a Chinese government crackdown on gaming and corruption in Macau was not helping.
“We must acknowledge that recent trading in Macau has been difficult, negatively impacted by regulatory changes around smoking and the government crackdown on corruption in China, a crackdown that we give our 100 per cent support to and believe will secure the long-term future of the industry there,” he said.
The company is presently expanding its Perth casino, and is developing resorts in Sydney, Manila and Macau.
It also has ambitions to move into Brisbane, Las Vegas and Sri Lanka and is exploring opportunities in Japan.
Mr Packer also told shareholders he was “sick of governments” asking Crown to invest more in tourism infrastructure whilst also making the company pay for it whenever they had a revenue problem.
“What we are after and what we expect, is that when a government strikes a deal and sets the playing field, it honours those arrangements and doesn’t move the goal posts,” he said.
After the AGM, Mr Craigie told reporters the chairman was making a general comment about businesses needing regulatory certainty, but he declined to say which government Mr Packer was referring to.
Their comments come a month after the Victorian government agreed to extend Crown’s Melbourne licence by 17 years to 2050, reduce taxes on VIP gaming and allow extra gaming tables.
While anti-gambling campaigners have criticised that Crown deal, Mr Packer stressed the firm was a “model corporate citizen” which gave to philanthropic causes.