Record profits jackpot for gaming resort operator

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 March, 2012, 12:00am


Gaming resort operator NagaCorp achieved record profits last year, as its net gain surged by 109 per cent to US$92 million from US$44.1 million in 2010. Gross profit jumped by 54 per cent to US$163.8 million.

Total revenue was US$223.8 million, a 49-per cent surge from US$150.5 million in 2010.

'The improvement is not only because of increased business volume, but profitability as well,' says Philip Lee, chief financial officer.

The board has proposed a final dividend for last year of 1.55 US cents per share. When combined with the interim dividend paid, the total for 2011 comes to 3.09 US cents per share, representing a total dividend payout ratio of 70 per cent.

The company's gaming and leisure operation, NagaWorld in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, enjoys a huge competitive advantage over other gaming centres, such as Macau.

Established in 1995, NagaCorp operates the only hotel casino in Phnom Penh. It holds a casino licence valid for 70 years and exclusive gaming rights for casino operations in a 200-kilometre radius around the capital up to 2035.

NagaWorld has secured a favourable gaming taxation arrangement with the Cambodian government until 2018, where it pays a monthly fixed tax amount, regardless of revenue. This amounts to an effective tax rate of less than 2 per cent of gross revenue for the year ended December 31, 2011. The relatively low cost of living in Cambodia helps keep the operating cost of NagaWorld low, Lee notes.

The 73 per cent gross profit margin is attributable to the relatively high proportion of the commission-free mass-market business segments that account for 64 per cent of the gross revenue.

'We have successfully marketed NagaWorld as an entertainment and holiday destination beyond gaming. NagaWorld has helped lift tourist arrivals in Phnom Penh to the same level as Siem Reap. Tourist arrivals in Phnom Penh were only 70 per cent of Siem Reap's five years ago,' Lee says.

'The growing affluence of the locals also contributes to the increased public floor buy-ins. The compound effect of the increased buy-ins and the higher 24-per cent win rate pushed the gross revenue in the public floor gaming tables segment up by 51 per cent to US$62.63 million. 'NagaWorld is the preferred destination of lower-end junket players with minimum check-in at US$15,000 from Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. They are also attracted by the competitively priced entertainment compared with Macau and Singapore. The win rates were 2.5 per cent. Given the higher business volume, we are able to achieve closer to the theoretical win-rates of 2.8 per cent. The higher win-rates and rolling helped push the gross revenue of the junket segment to US$80.14 million,' Lee says.

Supported by the Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia, NagaWorld will soon launch marketing campaigns in Vietnam and Thailand. With a marketing office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the company will collaborate with outbound travel agencies to further promote NagaWorld and launch a branding and awareness campaign in conjunction with Saatchi & Saatchi. A marketing office in Bangkok will start operations soon. 'Air travel is the main connection between Bangkok and Phnom Penh. There are up to seven one-hour flights every day. Because a lot of tourists from mainland China visit Bangkok, we plan to attract them by working with out-bound agencies in China and Bangkok to market package tours,' Lee adds.

A new Vietnamese-focused Saigon Palace will be opened by mid-2012. The company has also introduced cutting-edge rapid gaming machines by ShuffleMaster in the United States, which have helped increase volume significantly.

Opened last month, NagaRock explores the lifestyle gaming concept by incorporating live entertainment and food and beverage.

Upon completion of the nearby Naga Two by about 2015, which will feature extensive upscale retail spaces, additional gaming floors, hotel accommodation, entertainment venues and lush greenery, NagaWorld will become a truly integrated gaming and entertainment resort, Lee believes.