Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd. said main-floor gaming revenue was slightly higher in the first four months of the fiscal year, but that VIP play continued to decline following the arrests of some of its employees in China.
Executive Chairman John Alexander, in prepared remarks to be delivered at the company's annual meeting, also emphatically rejected recent accusations from Australian independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie that the company tampered with gaming machines. Mr. Alexander said the allegations, which Mr. Wilkie said comes from a handful of whistleblowers, are "deeply offensive" to Crown.
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"I again urge Mr Wilkie, if he believes he has evidence of wrongdoing, to stop the political games and immediately provide any information he has in his possession directly to the relevant authorities," Mr. Alexander said.
In the period from July 1 to Oct. 22, Crown said VIP program play at its Australian resorts was down 17% compared to the prior period. The continued decline comes after Crown staff, including three Australians, were detained last October by Chinese authorities and later convicted of gambling crimes. The case was widely watched in the casino industry because Chinese high-rollers had become a coveted revenue source for global casinos.
Mr. Alexander, however, said VIP program play in the recent period at the company's flagship Melbourne casino exceeded expectations, "which is encouraging given that most of the prior corresponding period preceded the detention of Crown's staff in China."
He said revenue from main-floor gaming, excluding VIP, was "slightly up" at its Australian resorts and that non-gaming revenue rose around 6%. He said wagering and online businesses continued to show good revenue growth.
Crown, controlled by Australian billionaire James Packer, also said a project to build a new casino-resort on Sydney's waterfront is proceeding on schedule and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.
-Write to Mike Cherney at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 25, 2017 19:29 ET (23:29 GMT)