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Big wet dries up Cairns casino visitors

An extraordinary wet season and global economic jitters have helped wipe more than two-thirds from the Reef Casino Trust's first-half profit, though the result was slightly better than forecast at the Cairns-based complex.

The trust said its net profit fell by 69 per cent to $755,000 in the six months to June 30, down from $2.42 million a year ago, while revenue dipped by 27 per cent to $7.6 million amid exceptionally weak visitor numbers to North Queensland.

The result was, however, slightly better than last month's revised guidance, which had been raised on improved rental income from the Reef Hotel Casino during June.

The casino's chief executive, Alan Tan, said on Friday the result had been weighed down by a softness in Cairns tourism not seen for a number of years.

He said a decline in both international and domestic visitors had been exacerbated by weak consumer spending, general anxiety around the federal election result, and an increase in rival accommodation options.

A poor Chinese New Year season also drove a 5.9 per cent decline in Chinese visitation to Queensland in the year to March, which the casino said had reduced the number of premium players.

Mr Tan said the US-China trade war also played a part.

Overall casino revenues were 24.6 per cent lower than last year.

Nonetheless, the trust's distributable profit was also slightly higher than forecast at $1.55 million despite falling 69 per cent from $48.4 million.

The trust will pay an interim distribution of 3.04 unfranked cents per unit, down from last year's 9.71 cent interim distribution.

The trust said it had enjoyed a better start to the second half of the year as "high tourist season" approached but economic and trading conditions in Cairns remained muted.

"The Reef Hotel Casino's management strategy is to tightly manage performance under challenging conditions based on three key strategic areas - electronic gaming, table games and hotel operations," chairman Richard Haire said.

Shares in the trust were last trading at $2.41 on the ASX.

BIG WET DRIES UP CAIRNS VISITOR NUMBERS

* Net profit down 69pct to $755,000

* Distributable profit 69pct down to $1.51m

* Rental revenue down 27pct to $7.6m

* Interim distribution 3.04 cents per unit, unfranked, down from 9.71 cents a year ago.

© AAP 2019

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