The resurgent on line casino continues to be hoping for a web site redesign

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According to Casino Canberra, business is back to pre-COVID levels. Photo: file.

Canberra Casino is restoring its fortune after COVID-19 gave it a horror hand last year and cut revenues in half for the first six months of 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the casino along with other restaurants had to be closed for about five months from March to August.

Casino owner Aquis Entertainment has told the Australian Stock Exchange that in a strong December quarter, trading levels returned to pre-COVID levels and no longer qualify for the Commonwealth's JobKeeper subsidy program. JobKeeper's payments to the casino were suspended on January 4th.

The company posted a loss of $ 2.6 million in the first half of the year despite receiving $ 1.6 million in wage subsidies for a payroll of $ 2.18 million and a refund of nearly $ 1 million for Received gambling license fees from the ACT government.

The casino received $ 1.4 million in Commonwealth grants in the September quarter, primarily JobKeeper wage grants.

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The casino maintained skeletal staff while it was closed. It commemorated most of its 235 employees who resigned without pay when it reopened in August. JobKeeper grants were paid from September 28th through January 3rd.

CEO Allison Gallaugher said all casino employees were now back to work and the business was operating on the government's 1: 4-square-foot rule, which allows 505 customers on-site.

Ms. Gallaugher did not mention the business impact of the continued international border closings and the loss of tourists.

The company's December quarterly report, which aims to highlight the improvement in trading, is due out later this month.

The casino had to reject claims by the United Workers Union last year that it abused the JobKeeper program by forcing employees to take annual leave.

At the time, it was said it was negotiating deals with some employees with high vacation credit, and JobKeeper would mean casino staff had a job to return to.

The past year has been a difficult time for the casino as a complex sale to Blue Whale Entertainment was resolved that included plans to redesign the venue and continue development plans in the district that were seen as critical to the future of the business.

Aquis informed the ASX in March 2020 that it was still hoping for the redevelopment of the prime urban site and was in talks with the government. Then COVID-19 hit and put the casino's plans on hold.

The government has said it remains open to suggestions, but likely smaller than the company's original unsolicited $ 330 million offer that the government turned down in 2018, but the ball is in Aquis & # 39; Dish.

Ms. Gallaugher has confirmed that the restructuring is still on the agenda and that the talks will continue.

In 2019, the casino saw losses due to declining revenues as fewer high rollers came to Canberra from overseas. However, Aquis had started cutting costs, restructuring its staff and revising its VIP program, which it said was bearing fruit in March 2020.

The company benefited from higher sales and lower volatility in the second half of 2019 and forecast that this will continue and stabilize in the coming year just before the pandemic forced the company to close its doors.