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Centrebet puts Jupiters on roll

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Queensland casino operator Jupiters will continue to pin its hopes on international expansion after a strong performance from its sports betting and keno units helped the group post a 12 per cent rise in underlying full-year earnings.

The stellar revenue gains from Centrebet, its Keno and monitoring operations, and good wins from high-rolling gamblers, offset a slump in machine revenue at its Brisbane, Townsville and Gold Coast casinos after delays in rolling out new machines.

The full-year net profit rose just 1.3 per cent to $78 million, with sales up 2.5 per cent to $796.2 million.

The company was hit by an adverse $10 million tax ruling, but gained $12.9 million from higher than usual losses by high-roller gamblers.

But excluding those two items, profit rose 12.1 per cent to $75.2 million – at the top end of market expectations – while sales were up 3.7 per cent.

In May, the company forecast low double-digit growth on its normalised earnings.

“The result pleased the market. Centrebet performed well and that’s the growth engine of the business,” said a fund manager who did not want to be named.

Sports betting revenue rose 56 per cent to $28.7 million, continuing its rapid growth of the past four years.

Jupiters shares rose 4¢ to $5.45 yesterday.

Chief executive Rob Hines said Jupiters was looking to exploit the success of Centrebet by leveraging it into other markets such as the United Kingdom.

“The market is pretty saturated in Australia,” he said. “We’re focusing on growth in international markets.

Centrebet will launch a UK website soon.

Casino sales rose just 1 per cent to $462 million. UFABet Jupiters will pay a final dividend of 11¢ a share, with a full-year payout of 21¢ a share, a yield of 3.9 per cent.

Majority of Macao Residents Optimistic About Future: Survey

The majority of Macao residents believe the liberalization of gaming industry will bring a bright future to the region, though the move will probably incur more public order problems, a survey shows.

Responding to a street survey conducted recently by groups of local youth, 45 percent of 698 pedestrians said the policy of “developing Macao with gaming industry as dragon head and service industry as a major pillar” set by the Special Administrative Region (SAR) government is “rational” or “very rational.”

More than 60 percent of the respondents expressed “optimism” or “strong optimism” about Macao’s future, as against less than 10 percent who were “not optimistic.”

And 42 percent of these people said opening-up the gambling sector will help ease unemployment strains in Macao.

However, about half of the respondents said to build more casinos will disrupt public order and fuel the bad ways of gambling among the young people, urging the government to take measures against more social problems, such as beefing up education.

Earlier this year, the SAR government issued three casino licenses to break monopoly over the market by casino tycoon Stanley Ho for decades.