In Australia, Casino Canberra has reportedly released its financial results for 2016 showing that its loss has widened to approximately $5.9 million while it is now standing in a negative net asset position with its $24 million in liabilities out-stripping assets by almost $11,000.
According to a report from The Canberra Times newspaper, the Australian Capital Territory casino was purchased in late-2014 by Aquis Canberra Holdings (Australia) Proprietary Limited, which is controlled by Hong Kong-based businessman Tony Fung, and is currently awaiting government approval for a $236 million redevelopment plan that will see it add hotels, shops and restaurants.
However, the five-year scheme also reportedly calls for Casino Canberra to be allowed a range of slots, which are so far restricted only to clubs in the Australian Capital Territory. The local government gave its in-principle support to the plan in June but the entire proposal was put in jeopardy a month later after Shane Rattenbury from the ACT Greens political party revealed that he was only prepared to offer his support if Aquis Canberra Holdings (Australia) Proprietary Limited agreed to limit the units to AUS$1 spins and AUS$500 maximum jackpots. The 45-year-old moreover called on the casino operator to institute mandatory pre-commitments on the machines, which would require gamblers to nominate up front how much they are going to spend.
The newspaper reported that the impact of Rattenbury’s conditions is still unclear although the government has continued assessing the business case for the proposed redevelopment scheme with Aquis Canberra Holdings (Australia) Proprietary Limited declaring that this process is now complete and that it expects a recommendation to be put before cabinet “imminently”.
In terms of its 2016 financials, Casino Canberra reportedly saw its annual gambling revenues rise by 21% year-on-year to about $16.9 million while food and drink takings improved to just over $1.7 million with spend per visitor improving by 33%.
The Canberra Times reported that Aquis Canberra Holdings (Australia) Proprietary Limited declared that there are “reasonable grounds to believe that the consolidated entity will be able to continue as a going concern” and referred to its $3.7 million unused borrowing facility and a boost in business expected post-refurbishment.
Jessica Mellor, Chief Executive Officer for Casino Canberra, reportedly explained that the downtown venue had suffered from years of under investment but changes implemented by Aquis Canberra Holdings (Australia) Proprietary Limited had led to a 38% swell in overall revenues for 2015 before last year’s 22%.
“Strong top-line growth is a validation of the new energy we have injected into the business,” Mellor told the newspaper before pointing out that the property had increased the amount of money it paid in tax to the government by 23% in 2015 and 18% last year. “Aquis Canberra Holdings (Australia) Proprietary Limited will continue to invest strongly in our long-term plan. Our auditors and directors all believe that the company is financially stable with performance and growth prospects in line with expectations and our business plans.”
The Canberra Times reported that Mellor has only been in her current role since October following the resignation of predecessor Aaron Gomes while January saw the Canberra venue’s Chief Financial Officer, Garry Gill, announce his intention to step down from next month.