Tables turn against London Clubs - Tuesday 12th of July 2005

WHILE the hoi polloi do their credit cards on blackjack and the virtual roulette wheels of cyberspace, good old-fashioned high rollers at the smartest tables in London casinos have been cleaning up.

London Clubs International said today a torrid Christmas and New Year at its Les Ambassadeurs flagship sent the group tumbling £1.4 million into the red in the year to 27 March, against a £2.5m profit the previous year.

LCI chairman Michael Beckett talked today of Les A being subject to volatility and a low win percentage, though investors had been warned that big-betting Middle Easterners had enjoyed the turn of the wheel and the luck of the draw during December and January.

But that was not necessarily the worst of it. LCI turnover plunged 13% with The Sportsman casino closed for four months, the Golden Nugget hit by new moneylaundering regulations and its joint venture with colourful entrepreneur Robert Earl at the historic Fifty casino suffering spiralling losses after a substantial refurbishment.

But LCI reckons things can only get better. Fifty and The Sportsman should contribute to full-year earnings next time while the group aims to take advantage of more space opening up across its estate.

Our strategy of expanding outside London and the opportunities presented by deregulation provide an environment in which further progress can be made, said Beckett.

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