Echo's profit slips as Qld market softens

Casino operator Echo Entertainment's first half profit has slipped five per cent and revenues are down so far in the second half of the financial year.

Echo made a net profit of $66.5 million in the six months to December 31, down from $70.2 million in the previous corresponding period.

Profit fell due to lower tax paid in the previous corresponding period and higher depreciation in the six months to December after the company's investment in The Star casino in Sydney.

Echo also operates Jupiters casino on the Gold Coast, the Treasury casino in Brisbane, and Jupiters in Townsville.

Chairman John O'Neill said the performance of Echo's Queensland casinos was softer in the first half of the 2012/13 financial year, due to what the company described as a "tough consumer environment".

Revenue in the first part of the second half of the financial year was down 17 per cent from the same period in the previous year, Echo said.

Echo declared a fully-franked interim dividend of four cents per share, in line with the previous corresponding period.

"The Queensland properties continued to experience soft revenue trends in (first half 2013) driven by general macro-economic conditions in our core markets," chief executive John Redmond said in a statement.

"We expect that the business is likely to trade in line with general market conditions in (second half 2013).

"Further attention is being placed on the operating cost base in those properties."

He said the company was working with the Queensland government to maximise the value of its casinos, and talks were underway for a possible relocation of the Treasury casino in Brisbane.

Expansion of The Star was complete and the focus would now be on reducing operating margins, Mr Redmond said.

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