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James Packer. Picture: Getty Images.
James Packer. Picture: Getty Images.

UPDATE 1.55pm: James Packer's move to tap into the booming Chinese gambling market is starting to reap big dividends while Crown's Australian casinos in Perth and Melbourne continue to deliver lacklustre results.

Crown lifted its first half profit almost 30 per cent driven by record results from its 33.6 per cent interest in the City of Dreams casino in Macau.

Crown made a normalised after tax profit of $315 million for the six months to December 31, up from $243 million a year ago.

It more than doubled its statutory net profit, which includes one-off items, to $382.5 million, from $181 million.

That figure was skewed by a $75 million loss on the sale of the company's stake in rival Echo Entertainment during the prior period.

Crown chief executive Rowen Craigie said the company had seen weak consumer sentiment in Australia that had adversely affected trading at both Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth.

"The results for those resorts were below expectations and reflect the fact that their local economies are experiencing structural and cyclical challenges," he said.

"Compared to last year, normalised EBITDA was down 4.6 per cent in Crown Melbourne and down 4.1 per cent in Crown Perth and main floor gaming revenue was down 0.6 per cent across Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth."

"VIP program play turnover was well below expectations, particularly at Crown Melbourne, which was down 33.1 per cent on the prior year, reflecting the competitive challenges facing Crown Melbourne."

However Mr Craigie said its Melco Crown Entertainment business (Macau) had achieved another record result, with significant year on year growth across both the VIP and the mass market segments.

"This record result was the major contributor to the growth in Crown's normalised NPAT," he said.

Crown's share of MCE's normalised result for the period was an equity accounted profit of $140.6 million, up 118 per cent on the prior year.

After adjusting for an above theoretical win rate and pre-opening costs, Crown's share of MCE's reported NPAT result for the half year was an equity accounted profit of $147.5 million.

Crown declared an interim dividend of 18 cents a share partially franked, in line with last year.

Shares in the company were off 55 cents, or 3.19 per cent, to $16.68 at the close.