CORRECTED-Australia's Echo annual profit jumps Star earnings

Wed Aug 21, 2013 9:01pm EDT

(Corrects Thomson Reuters data forecast details in 1st, 3rd and 4th pars, putting earnings just shy of expectations)

SYDNEY Aug 22 (Reuters) - Australia's Echo Entertainment Group Ltd posted a strong jump in full-year net profit on strong earnings at its flagship Sydney casino, falling just shy of analysts' forecasts.

Echo, which will lose its exclusive gaming licence in Sydney in late 2019 to larger rival Crown Ltd, said it was having productive discussions with the Queensland government about its proposal to relocate and expand its casino in Brisbane.

The company said net profit to the end of June rose A$83.5 million ($75.31 million), compared with A$42.2 million the previous year, helped by strong revenue growth in Sydney.

Underlying net profit fell 15.5 percent to A$126.9 million, just shy of analysts' forecasts of A$130.75 million, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Earnings were constrained by higher operating expenses in Sydney and disappointing earnings at gaming venues in Queensland state.

Echo will lose its exclusive gaming licence in Sydney from the end of 2019 under a state government ruling last month that granted rival Crown Ltd conditional approval for a VIP gaming room at its luxury hotel development in the city.

The competition between the pair has now shifted to Brisbane, where Echo has proposed a A$1 billion-plus redevelopment of its Treasury Casino that would include a new six-star hotel. Crown, meanwhile, is drawing up plans to build a new A$1.5 billion casino, hotel and retail complex in the north Australian city.

(= 1.1087 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Jane Wardell; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Stephen Coates)

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