8683.0 - Casinos, Australia, 1997-98  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/12/1998   
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Casino takings up, but profits down - ABS

Figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that in 1997-98, the Australian casino industry recorded an operating loss before tax of $288 million, which represented an operating profit margin of minus 10.8%. This loss was in spite of a 17% increase in income (to $2,710 million) for the year. Significant abnormal expenses items contributed to the loss.

Takings from gambling of $2,165 million made up 80% of the total industry income, which represented an 11% increase since 1996-97 and a 15% increase since 1995-96. Of this income, $1,432 million accrued from gaming tables, and 37% of this ($537 million) was contributed by overseas "premium" and other "rated" players. In total, these overseas players contributed 25% of the casino industry's total gambling income.

While takings from gaming tables have increased by only 6% since 1996-97, takings from poker/gaming machines increased by 26% in the same period to $700 million. In total, there were 10,575 poker/gaming machines in the 13 casinos at the end of June 1998 (an increase of 12% since June 1997). The average takings per poker/gaming machine in 1997-98 was $66,200.

Total expenses of casinos for 1997-98 were $3,003 million. The three major components of these expenses were labour costs of $703 million, gambling taxes and levies of $426 million and marketing, promotion and sponsorship expenses of $413 million. A significant component of the latter expense item was costs associated with attracting "premium" and other "rated" players.

At the end of June 1998, there were 20,531 persons employed by casinos in Australia, which was a 9% decrease in employees since June 1997. Of those employed, 8,542 worked as licensed gaming staff. Gambling takings per licensed gaming staff member for 1997-98 was $253,500 compared to $208,900 in 1996-97.

Casinos operated by the four largest enterprise groups (i.e. casino businesses under common ownership and control) accounted for 84% of employment at the end of June 1998 (up from 82% since June 1997) and 88% of total income during 1997-98 (up from 82% since 1996-97). Despite this increased concentration by the four largest groups, they recorded an operating loss before tax of $316 million, which represented an operating profit margin of minus 13.6% compared to 2.1% the previous year. In comparison, the remaining enterprise groups recorded an operating profit margin of 8.6% during 1997-98 and minus 2.9% during 1996-97.

More details are in Casinos, Australia 1997-98 (cat. no. 8683.0) available from ABS bookshops. A summary of the publication is also available on this site.