High rollers leave Stanley out of pocket

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The Independent Online

A £10m winning streak enjoyed by high-rolling gamblers at Crockfords casino, the swanky Mayfair gaming establishment in London, hit profits at Stanley Leisure, the gambling group which reported half-year results yesterday.

The company's figures highlight the risks of operating up-market gaming operations where just one or two wealthy players can wipe out an individual casino's profits in a few nights of gambling.

Stanley, headed by Bob Wiper, the chief executive, said that while group turnover had risen by 59 per cent to £752m, profit before tax was down 13 per cent to £21.5m. This result reflected the fact that Crockfords only broke even in the six months to October 26. In the same period in 2002, Crockfords made a profit of £10.6m.

Stanley's bookmaking division saw turnover soar 73 per cent to £661m as operating profit increased to £15.6m. However, the casino division had flat turnover of £91.5m and operating profits 31 per cent lower at £15.1m. Stanley also owns the Palm Beach casino near Berkeley Square, the Mint in South Kensington and the Colony Club in west London, and operates a string of smaller, regional casinos as well as its chain of high street bookies.