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New Brisbane casino resort could cost $1bn

Casinos operator Echo Entertainment Group says building a new integrated casino resort in Brisbane could cost around $1 billion.

Along with the Treasury casino in Brisbane, Echo operates The Star casino in Sydney, and the Jupiters casinos at the Gold Coast and Townsville.

Echo on Thursday said the development of a large-scale integrated resort in Brisbane and the relocation of its existing Treasury casino in Brisbane could generate significant value for Echo.

The company and the Queensland government are evaluating potential sites for the Treasury casino's relocation.

"The scope of investment is being looked at across both Brisbane and the Gold Coast," Echo chief executive John Redmond told reporters on Thursday.

"But, (it's) safe to say that investment in the Brisbane market would probably be in the order of magnitude of a billion dollars, to build the type of resort that would make sense for this market.

"And there would be some re-investment in the Jupiters facility (at the Gold Coast) to keep that product (casino) competitive as well."

Mr Redmond said a new, "amazing" integrated casino resort that could offer more accommodation, restaurants and non-gaming facilities would put Brisbane back "on the map".

He said Brisbane could only support one casino.

"Anything beyond that starts to fragment the market and to minimise the amount of investment," Mr Redmond said.

In late 2010, before Echo was split from gaming giant Tabcorp, Tabcorp had said it planned to spend $625 million on expanding its three Queensland casinos.

But, Mr Redmond said on Thursday, that only about $50 million had been spent on upgrading the Queensland casinos due to speculation of a second casino at the Gold Coast and in Brisbane.

The consequent environment of uncertainty had made it hard to make investment decisions.

Echo on Thursday booked a net profit of $66.5 million in the six months to December 31, down 5.3 per cent from $70.2 million in the prior corresponding period.

Profit fell due to lower tax paid in the previous corresponding period and higher depreciation in the six months to December 31, 2012, following Echo's big investment in upgrading The Star casino in Sydney.

The performance of its Queensland casinos was softer in the first half of the 2012/13 financial year, due to a "tough consumer environment".

Echo said trading for the start of the second half of the financial year had been mixed.

Revenue in the first part of the second half of the financial year was down 16.7 per cent from the same period in the previous year.

Mr Redmond said that in the second half, Echo would focus on strategies to enhance revenue, cut costs and get a stronger return on investment at The Star.

The Queensland casinos continued to experience soft revenue trends and were likely to trade in line with general market conditions.

Shares in Echo were 2.5 cents higher at $3.505 at 1302 AEDT on Thursday.