ARISTOCRAT Leisure has posted annual profit growth of 72 per cent.
      North America accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the AU $1.3bn revenue in 2005. Aristocrat earns around 80 per cent of its revenue outside its native Australia. The company earned a net profit $244.3m for 2005, up from $142.2m a year ago.

      Aristocrat chief executive Paul Oneile said while North  America was the stand-out performer, the second half was softer than anticipated. “This arose from uncertainty around higher interest rates and fuel costs, the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf region, a slowdown in the replacement cycle and delays in new jurisdictions opening up,” he said in a statement.
      Aristocrat estimated the total impact of Hurricane Katrina at $ 5.3m. Oneile said he did not expect significant growth in North America, but he was ‘positive’ about the overall prospects for the region this year.
     “I believe we will continue to grow profitability and our share of the global market,” he said. “The global gaming market continues to expand and as we gather momentum with out wider product range, and as our new technologies are introduced to the industry, I am optimistic that our long-term objectives will be achieved,” Oneile said.
      Oneile said the Australian replacement rate for machines was at historically low levels, down to once every 12 years from once every five years.
      The Japanese market share of total revenues remained at 29 per cent, following the transition new regulations.
      Aristocrat has also acquired just under 10 per cent of US group PokerTek for $11.6m and agreed a 10-year distribution deal with the company. Aristocrat can now place PokerTek’s PokerPro table system in casinos across the globe.
      Aristocrat has the right to market the tables and other PokerTek products except in US and Canadian jurisdictions where PokerTek places product directly.

IGT ‘positive’ over 2005 performance

IGT chairman TJ Matthews was in upbeat mood at the slot company’s annual meeting, despite the impact of hurricanes and a slowing domestic market.

     “We are the very best manufactures in our industry,” Matthews, the company’s chairman and chief executive told the 150 gathered shareholders – around a third of them IGT employees-at the meeting marking the company’s 25th year in business.
      Hurricanes in the Gulf Coast cost the company an estimated US $14.9m and is expected to result in a loss of 50,000 machine days for each quarter of 2006.
      However, Matthews said the casinos eventually would be rebuilt and would represent a new market.
      IGT released 172 new game themes in North America last years, a 38 per cent increase over the previous year, and spent $138m on research and development, sixper cent of  its total revenue. The company is projecting expenses of $172m this year.
     “We will spend more money than our next three competitors combined,” Matthews said.

Lahti adds experience to PokerTek board

POKERTEK has appointed Joseph Lahti to its board of directors. Lahti has been pointed to serve on the board’s Audit and Compensation Committees.
     “We are honoured to welcome Joe Lahti to the PokerTek Board,” said Lou White, chief executive of PokerTek.

     “His experience and leadership in helping Shuffle master grow from a start-up company to an industry leader will be of considerable value to PokerTek. More importantly, Joe is a phenomenal business executive who, along with our other board members, will keep PokerTek’s management team accountable and focused on the execution of our stretigic plan. ”
      Lathi served as president chief executive and chairman of Shuffle master from December 1993 to February 2002.
      Since leaving Shuffle master, Lahti has remained active as both remained active as both a shareholder and member of the boards and executive committees of several companies in industries ranging from software, manufacturing and asset management.

* Bally Boost
BALLY Gaming and Systems has opened a new office in Macau to provide sales and service support for its slot machines, systems and table management business efforts throughout Asia.
      The new office features approximately 1,900sq.ft of space, including a showroom and sales offices. Bally has also retained an additional 2,000sq.ft of nearby warehouse space for machine stock and parts.

     “Bally’s growing slot machine business within Macau and throughout Asia –along with serving a key Bally Systems customer, Sands Macau, and our Bally Table management Systems customer, Galaxy Entertainment Group – promoted the opening of this office, which further demonstrates our commitment to the region while establishing Bally for future expansion throughout the Asia-Pacific market,” said John Connelly, bally vice president international.

Bally has also appointed Catherine Burns to the position of vice president and managing director for Bally Pan-Asia. In her new role, burns will be responsible for gaming and systems activities throughout Asia, with an initial emphasis on Bally Casino Management Systems and Bally TMS.
      Burns has previously served as general manager for VLC, a gaming machine and systems company and a division of US- based Powerhouse Technologies