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Star Casino Owner Echo Set to Bounce Back

Thereís a lasting impression from the last couple of years that Echo Entertainment isnít the big fish in the Australian Casino game, and that the ambitions of the Crown Casino Group might well include an acquisition of Echo. But that take-over hasnít materialised yet, and the longer Echo keeps going, the healthier it starts to seem.

Looking to the stock market, and the assessment of its ruthless analysts, isnít the worst way to gauge the success of an international business like an Australian Casino resort owner, but just maybe it doesnít tell the whole story.

The market is saying that Echoís returns from its high-rollers are down again this year: that is to say that the really big bets have been going against the house and in favour of the Ďwhalesí whoíve flown in to enjoy a few really big wagers at The Star, Sydney - a glittering casino resort. But can you judge the performance of the whole casino group on games of chance?

The reality is that the whales are making their way to The Star in some numbers, and the casino has gone a long way to establishing itself as a serious player on the Sydney nightlife scene. The initial investment in The Starís refurbishment was huge (AU$850million or so...), and the further we get from that investment, the better the books will be looking for Echo.

And one big thing in Echoís favour is The Star itself. Itís a genuinely international casino resort, and itís a genuinely world-class one, too. Itís become a popular destination for good reason Ė the accommodation on offer is top-quality, especially at the new Darling Hotel, whose guests have included big stars like George Clooney and Paris Hilton in the past year or so.

On top of that, The Star offer restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues for guests, as well as after-hours drinking that has put it on the map on the Sydney nightclub scene. And donít forget the casino Ė thereís more gaming tables than you could ever need, and theyíre offering Poker, Blackjack, Baccarat (a favourite of the whales), Roulette and plenty of other Casino Games. With a great range of pokies to offer you some variety and a bit of instant satisfaction, The Star is a strong competitor in the Australia-Pacific casino market.

Maybe the only weakness The Star has is that it exists in a hyper-competitive market that includes both the new Singapore casino resorts and the massive casino hub that is Macau. Maybe the market analysts that identify it as a weak brand are doing it a disservice. Time will tell, but Echo and The Star have weathered a difficult year or so, and theyíre still offering a great night out at the casino to Sydney residents...

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