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Star Casino: Coronavirus pandemic blamed for $95 million loss

The Advertiser 2020-08-20 09:00:00

Star Entertainment Group says the coronavirus pandemic has not derailed its major construction plans in Queensland and NSW despite casino revenue being dented by the lockdown period.

The group posted a statutory net loss of $94.6 million for the 12 months ending June 30, a 147.8 per cent slump compared with financial year 2019.

Star’s casino operations in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sydney were significantly impacted by COVID-19, which caused venues to close in April and has reduced patronage ever since.

The initial onset of the virus forced the casino giant to stand down 8500 staff members while it was unable to operate.

Star noted its earnings and revenue would have tracked positive if the pandemic had not occurred.

Earnings (EBITDA) were down 22.8 per cent to $429.6 million compared with 2019, while revenue dropped 23.3 per cent to $1.66 billion.

Star chairman John O’Neill said the group’s major Queen’s Wharf project in Brisbane and the overhaul of its Gold Coast casino were still on track.

“Major projects at Queen’s Wharf Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast are proceeding to plan, with the upgraded and expanded Sovereign at The Star Sydney delivered on time and budget,” he said.

Chief executive officer Matt Bekier also said the premier Brisbane project had secured a further $1.6 billion in debt funding.

“Execution of our longstanding growth strategy continued to plan over financial year 2020,” he said.

“Initial response by our highest value domestic customers to the new Sovereign in Sydney since its July 2020 opening has been pleasing.”

Revenue sales from Star Sydney were down 26.1 per cent on the previous corresponding period to $1.02 billion, while Queensland net revenue was down 18.5 per cent to $641 million.

Star said despite social distancing restrictions implemented across its venues, revenue in July had improved and was around 80 per cent of what was accrued in the same month last year.

Between April and June, Star collected $64.8 million from the Federal Government in JobKeeper payments. It estimates by September 27, the figure will blow out to $130 million with 7000 employees to still receive the wage subsidy.

The Star said it would not pay a final dividend to shareholders due to the uncertain economic outlook fuelled by the virus.

Originally published as Virus delivers Star Casino $95m blow