Tony Fung’s Aquis Entertainment is off to a rough start this year.
This week, the Casino Canberra reported a loss of AUD7.7 million (USD5.84 million) for 2016, which, in turn, puts Aquis in a negative position with liabilities of AUD31.3 million (USD23.76 million) outstripping the casino operator’s assets by AUD14,300 (USD10,856).
The company’s 2016 financial statements, filed at the Australian Stock Exchange, showed that its gambling revenue was up 21 percent to AUD22 million in 2016. Food and drink revenue was also up for the year at AUD2.23 million, while spend per visitor was up 33 percent.
To be fair, Casino Canberra is not expected to be back in black this year. The casino, which was acquired by Aquis in 2014 for AUD6 million, had to be refurbished—to the tune of AUD13.6 million—before it fully opened its doors to public. The refurbishment works were conducted in the first half of 2016, which saw the casino’s operations moving to a temporary facility with only 16 gaming tables, offering minimal food and beverage service as well as reduced levels of visitation due to the smaller facility.
New CEO Jessica Mellor said despite the casino suffering from years of under-investment, Aquis had delivered significant revenue growth in its two years—22 percent in 2016 and 38 percent in 2015.
“Strong top-line growth is a validation of the new energy we have injected into the business,” Mellor said, according to the Canberra Times.
Canberra Casino was the only casino in Australia without a poker machine, but that changed after the ACT government announced in May 2016 that it will offer the casino access to 200 poker machines—lower than Aquis Entertainment’s requested 500 machines.
Last year, the ACT government extended the Casino Canberra’s license to finally allow multi-terminal games on its casino floor, which means that the number of the casino’s terminals will more than double from the 22 terminals previously used for rapid roulette to 50 for the multi-terminal games, as long as there is a dealer “present at all times” to man the terminals.