Hong Kong-listed casino services firm Macau Legend Development Ltd has shifted to mid-August, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the “partial” opening of an expansion to its Savan Legend Resorts Hotel and Entertainment Complex, a casino venue in Laos, a company executive has told GGRAsia.
In June last year the firm had mentioned its goal was to have a soft launch for the expansion in the first quarter this year. An April filing mentioned the property should be operational in the “second half” of this year.
Savan Legend is in Savannakhet, near the border with Thailand. Casino gambling is not permitted within the borders of the latter country.
“There has been some delay in Savannakhet [Savan Legend] Phase 2 due to border closure,” said Sheldon Trainor, a Macau Legend executive director. He was referring to the frontier between Laos and Thailand and steps taken to control movement of people during the Covid-19 emergency.
“Currently, we plan to partially open Phase 2 in mid-August and fully open [in] late September. The Phase 2 expansion includes 40 suites, additional gaming, F&B [food and beverage] outlets, a pool and spa and a high-tech driving range,” for golfers Mr Trainor added.
In its 2019 annual report published in late April, Macau Legend had noted its two new projects in Laos – Phase 2 of Savan Legend and another gaming venue called “The Thakhet Club” – should be operational by “second half of 2020”. Phase 2 of Savan Legend complex is to have a boutique hotel branded as “The Suites,” according to the annual report.
The Thakhet Club – a slot machine venue – is located at Thakhek, the capital of Laos’ Khammouane province that shares a border with Thailand marked by the path of the Mekong River.
“We plan to open Thakhek slot club first then Savannakhet [Savan Legend] casino later,” Mr Trainor said. The Thakhek gaming venue will be introduced in phases and feature “slots, interactive tables, 44 guest rooms and some F&B outlets”, the Macau Legend executive stated.
Macau Legend had started to “ramp things down” at Savan Legend from “mid-March” onwards, prior to the Laos government’s mandated shutdown of all gaming venues within the country on April 1, Mr Trainor noted.
On May 15 Laos announced the easing of some restrictions in the country as it had recorded no new Covid-19 infection for 33 consecutive days, according to media reports. From this Monday, public agencies and businesses have been able to reopen with infection-prevention measures in place. Entertainment venues including nightclubs, karaoke venues, cinemas and casinos, have had to remain closed.
Mr Trainor said that currently it was not possible to give a date for when Savan Legend’s casino might reopen. This was due to uncertainty regarding when the border between Laos and Thailand might reopen. The executive noted however that Macau Legend had devised a hygiene regime it would put in place once it was permitted to offer gaming to customers in Laos.
“In terms of protocol, we will do temperature checks at the welcome centres and at casino entrances,” and use of masks and gloves would be “mandatory” for all staff, he stated. The firm will also provide masks to customers, provide hand-sanitiser “throughout buildings”, and ensure “spacing at seating” across all aspects of the operation, “including transport, casino and F&B,” Mr Trainor told GGRAsia.
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Macau’s total VIP gross gaming revenue in the first quarter of 2021