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SVL closes two more games lounges

Published:Wednesday | December 3, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Brian George, CEO of Supreme Ventures Limited. - File

Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) has shuttered another two other gaming lounges and cut 20 jobs, saying the closures are aimed at stemming losses amid falling revenue.

The company has locked down its Odyssey Gaming Lounge at Market Place in Kingston and the Castle Gaming Lounge and Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) operations in Portmore. The lottery and sports betting unit at the facility in Portmore will remain open for normal business.

"This has been a difficult decision for us but the management team was charged with the task of eliminating the continued losses in the VLT operations," said SVL chief executive officer Brian George.

The company previously shuttered its Montego Bay Acropolis lounge in January.

The company continues to hang on to the flagship gaming lounge, Acropolis Barbican, and is planning "enhancements to the VLT offerings on the gaming floor, injection of more promotions and hospitality activities for gamers and excellent customer service for its valued customers", but did not clarify what these new additions will entail. Requests for comment were unanswered.

SVL previously locked down its Ambrosia restaurant at Acropolis when it exited the food service component of the lounge business and outsourced the restaurant to Ribbiz a year ago.

Odyssey Gaming Lounge was supplied with restaurant services by KLE Group, through its casual dining operation Tracks and Records, but CEO Gary Matalon says no major fallout is anticipated from the closure.

SVL poured some $200 million into setting up Odyssey just a year and a half ago, in February 2013. It opened with seating for 146.

The lounge featured seamless access from the KLE Group-operated Tracks and Records and marked the sixth gaming outfit operated by SVL.

George, at the time, said the entity was positioned as a game changer in a market segment dominated by SVL.

The Castle Gaming and Odyssey operations were closed officially on December 1. SVL said some team members "and other resources" will be relocated "to meet he expanded needs at Acropolis Barbican".

SVL's near decade-old lounge and hospitality business has largely been a drag on the group. The company has, over several years, expanded locations, then contracted, and has tried tweaking the business model, but the segment continues to underperform.

The Montego Bay lounge, for example, was shuttered after its rebranding from Coral Cliff to Acropolis failed to revive business there.

George previously said Acropolis Montego Bay was also "plagued by other issues" such as crime and poor security on the Gloucester Avenue strip, which he said changed the habits of recreational players.

The company further eliminated the position of assistant vice-president in charge of facilities and maintenance in the wake of the closure. The job was primarily linked to the MoBay operation.

Challenging Gaming Market

The rebranded Coral Cliff Montego Bay operation was the seventh lounge for the company and the fifth for the Acropolis line. Acropolis May Pen, which opened in 2007, was downsized to a betting lounge, with fewer gaming machines, in 2013.

Regarding the current closures, the company signalled that action was pending.

"Given the realities of the gaming industry, the company does not see a positive outlook for eliminating the losses at the Odyssey and Castle gaming lounges," SVL said in its nine-month earnings report.

"The gaming lounges continue to be impacted by a challenging gaming market, with a $75.96 million or 19.52 per cent reduction in VLT Net Win, when compared to the nine-month period for 2013."

SVL also signalled that it is not giving up on the lounge operations, saying it "remains committed to making the necessary changes to improve the profitability of this business segment".

Total revenues for the company grew by 22 per cent period to $30 billion for the nine-month to September 2014.

Lottery, Sports Betting and Pin Codes were a win for the gaming company.