Crown Resorts has reported a 70 per cent decrease in profits, despite more than $700 million in poker machine takings from the company’s Melbourne and Perth casinos.
$450 million was pumped into Crown’s 2682 Melbourne poker machines, while $265 million was lost in Perth.
This is the first time Crown has released such information after some persistent lobbying from anti-gambling advocates to assess the contribution of Crown in problem gambling.
The data released on Thursday also forms part of the company’s full-year results. Crown’s full-year profit was $558.9 million, a 70% decrease compared to the 2016-2017 financial year. The company, however, admits the earnings from the sales of its Macau business contributed to the astronomical rise in profits in 2016/2017.
Revenue increased by 4.5% to $3.4 billion for the 12 months to June 30, while revenue from the VIP high-roller gambling business increased 54.5% to $51.5 billion.
A professor of public health and gambling researcher, Charles Livingstone, said the rise in pokies profits from Crown Melbourne indicates that averagely, each machine made $170,000 annually, which is 1.7 times higher than Victoria’s state average.
“What we are looking at is a venue extremely good at extracting money from people,” he said.
Crown Melbourne had its license renewed, despite the findings of a review by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), stating the company fell short in its responsible gambling policies.
The the five year review also emphasised “failures of governance and risk management” and found “Crown will need to be innovative and proactive in effectively implementing harm minimisation strategies over the coming period.”
Professor Livingston indicated that the rise in pokies profits underscore the need for Crown to implement the recommendations by the VCGLR. These included the expansion of facial recognition technology that would automatically turn away self-identified problem gamblers and the application of player data analytics to identify problem gamblers.
The director of the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Tim Costello, welcomed the disclosure by Crown but added the high figures shows pokies harm in Australia was at its worse point.
“Victorian pokies losses were not really $2.7bn in 2017-18 as the government recently revealed but $3.145bn when you include the Crown losses which comprise 14.3% of all poker machines losses in Victoria,” he said.
Anna Bardsley, a punter who suffered problem gambling, while playing pokies at Crown Melbourne expressed shock on the rise of losses.
“I call on Crown Melbourne to proactively manage down their pokies revenue to below $400m next year by implementing the VCGLR reforms such as using data from the loyalty program to intervene when a gambler is suffering high levels of losses over a sustained period,” Bardsley said.
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