Cambodian casino eyes punters from Macau

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 February, 2010, 12:00am

Nagacorp, a casino-hotel operator in Cambodia, is in talks with Macau counterparts to channel more mainland punters to Phnom Penh in an attempt to boost revenue as the gambling market recovers.

'We have initiated a few interesting efforts with Macau operators to entice players in Macau to check out Nagacorp,' chief executive Chen Lip Keong said yesterday. 'Co-operation may not be limited to operations; it could also be in the form of equity interests and joint ventures.'

The relatively low-tax environment in Cambodia was a lure Nagacorp could dangle before the Macau casinos, Chen said. The effective tax rate in Cambodia is 2 per cent, compared with an 'all in' rate of 14 per cent in Macau.

Direct flights to Phnom Penh are expected to be launched by May. Nagacorp confirmed it was negotiating with Shenzhen Airlines to operate a two-hour flight between the cities to entice gamblers to Phnom Penh. The airline will use the landing rights of a firm linked to Nagacorp.

In November and December, the number of junkets to the firm's casino climbed back to pre-crisis levels, Chen said. He predicted casino turnover would rise 30 per cent this year.

Last year, the financial crisis pushed revenue from the VIP tables down 53 per cent year on year to US$53.4 million. But revenue at standard tables jumped 151 per cent to US$24.6 million, while slots rocketed to US$34.3 million from US$3.1 million. Net profit fell to US$25.5 million from US$40 million a year earlier.

Most of the punters at Nagacorp were from Southeast Asia. About 63 per cent of standard customers were from Vietnam, while 60 per cent of VIP customers were from Malaysia. Less than 13 per cent of all customers were from the mainland.