NZ casino giant SkyCity helped by online gambling rise

Casino operator SkyCity Entertainment expects the rise in its online gambling customer numbers will continue, helping to offset the impact of closing its New Zealand and Adelaide casinos during lockdowns.

New Zealand’s biggest tourism, leisure and entertainment company posted a 63 per cent rise in reported net profit to $NZ235 million ($A217 million) for the 12 months to June 30, largely driven by a $NZ160 million ($A147.7 million) impairment for its Adelaide property.

Auckland-based SkyCity has downgraded its earnings expectations for the facility, which is being expanded, with opening slated for later this year, and expects the coronavirus pandemic will continue to dent earnings in the meantime.

But its Malta-based online gambling operations launched a year ago have signed up more than 35,000 new customers and began trading profitably in April.

The company says the fast-growing business is a logical extension of its land-based operations, and while in its infancy, its performance so far has been encouraging.

“The launch … is an important step on the journey of pursuing opportunities to grow and diversify our earnings,” SkyCity said in its full-year results on Thursday.

The company also bought New Zealand’s leading broadcaster and operator of e-sports tournaments, Let’s Play Live Media, in July last year.

SkyCity’s Asian tourist business has suffered with the closure of the nation’s international border, and the firm expects it will remain closed through to the end of 2020-21.

Shares in the company jumped more than 10 per cent in morning trade.

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