Aristocrat hopes to cash in - Tuesday 12th of December 2006

ARISTOCRAT Leisure Ltd hopes to share in the spoils of Publishing and Broadcasting Ltds move into Asian casinos as it continues its aggressive international expansion.

Aristocrat Leisure chief executive Paul Oneile said he would be disappointed if his company did not own at least 40 per cent of the poker machines inside the Crown Macau and City of Dreams casinos.

Both are being developed by PBL and its joint venture partner Melco International Development.

The Crown Macau is set to open next April and the City of Dreams casino in 2008, with a third-hotel casino project planned for a 2009 opening.

Mr Oneile said the Macau gaming market offered very significant potential for Aristocrats growth.

"Weve gone from selling no machines into the Macau market as recently as two-and-a-half years ago to it now accounting for a very significance part of the companys overall performance," Mr Oneile told Sky News Sunday Business.

Aristocrat, which is the worlds second biggest poker machine maker, has managed to grab a market share in the new Western-style casinos in Macau of about 55 per cent.

Mr Oneile said he would be disappointed if Aristocrat did not achieve a similar market share in the Packer-backed casinos.

"At the moment were running at about 40 and 50 per cent of the install base of the casinos as they open up in the market," Mr Oneile said.

Mr Oneile also said he expected conditions in Aristocrats key Japanese market to improve early in 2007.

Last year new gaming laws caused Aristocrat to lose $9.6 million in Japan.

"By July 1 next year all regulations for games will be removed from the market and theyll be replaced by (new regulation) games, so we expect the market to pick up at the beginning of next year."

Aristocrat will also aim to harness an expansion in gaming in the United States, and in the fledgling Russian market, which Mr Oneile expects to come on stream in about 18 months.

In the last three years Aristocrat has increased the international component of its profit to 75 per cent from 25 per cent.

"I think in probably five years the international market place will account for 80 to 85 per cent of total profits," Mr Oneile said.

In August, Aristocrat delivered a three per cent increase in first half net profit to a record $104.74 million, but the result was overshadowed by the loss in Japan.

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