Desmonds bet on private gambling club yet to pay off - Monday 27th of July 2009

DERMOT DESMOND’S punt on The Sporting Emporium in Dublin doesn’t appear to be paying off for the wealthy financier.

Accounts just filed for The Sporting Emporium Ltd show that its accumulated losses at the end of October 2008 stood at €3.88 million.

This compared with a deficit of €2.57 million in fiscal 2007, indicating a loss last year of €1.3 million.

Admittedly, this is a narrowing on the €1.7 million loss recorded in the previous year.

The private members’ club at premises close to Grafton Street comprises a casino and Chronicle Bookmakers, and was opened in 2005 amid a blaze of publicity by Desmond and football manager Martin O’Neill, who at the time was between jobs.

The accounts also state that The Sporting Emporium’s tangible fixed assets amounted to €119,991 at the end of October last, compared with €1.7 million a year earlier.

In its report to the directors, auditors Ernst Young said the excess of liabilities over assets meant that “there did exist” a financial situation that “may require the convening of an extraordinary general meeting of the company”.

The club is paying an annual rent of €250,000 for the lease on its premises on Anne’s Lane.

The Sporting Emporium’s immediate parent is listed as IIU Nominees Ltd, an investment group controlled by Desmond.

Desmond spent €5.5 million on fitting out the facility four years ago.

The club, which opens until 6am each day, has eight blackjack/card tables, six roulette wheels, Punto Banco and Pai Gow tables and 14 traditional poker card tables.

The club holds poker tournaments and other events.

Entrance is controlled by a biometric system based on a member’s fingerprints which is provided by Daon, a company also controlled by Desmond.

Given the slump in the wealth of our high-rollers in the past year, the odds on Desmond turning a profit at The Sporting Emporium in the near future don’t look great.

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