The chairman of Cambodia casino operator NagaCorp Ltd has affirmed to GGRAsia that its gambling business at the firm’s NagaWorld complex (pictured) in Phnom Penh has been steady in the first quarter, notwithstanding the global coronavirus alert and the shutdown of the Macau casino market.
“We remain open and expect that we will continue to have frequent visitation,” said Tim McNally in reply to our question on the topic.
The chairman further noted: “The Chinese New Year period is typically slower as participants are home with family. We are only six weeks into the first quarter so we will have a much better read of the situation over the next few weeks.”
Union Gaming Securities LLC had said in a Tuesday note, following the publication on Monday of the Hong Kong-listed casino firm’s full-year earnings: “We suspect Naga, at least at the margin, has picked up some displaced customers from Macau.”
The mainland-China originating novel coronavirus infection has led to a sharp decline in tourism around Southeast Asia, particularly with regard to outbound tourism by Chinese. Authorities around the region have introduced a number of measures to cut travel – namely by people originating from China – so to reduce the risk of further spread of the coronavirus.
NagaCorp said in its Monday announcement that increased tourism to Cambodia, including a 20-percent growth in arrivals from mainland China in the first 11 months of 2019, had contributed to its business growth. NagaCorp stated its NagaWorld casino complex recorded gross gaming revenue of nearly US$1.72 billion in full-2019. That represented an increase of 19.9 percent compared with 2018, it said.
Mr McNally said in his commentary to us: “It is important to note that Cambodia has not been impacted significantly by the coronavirus…”
The chairman added: “Flights to Cambodia from China and elsewhere have not been disrupted so we continue to welcome guests and visitors. As you know the majority of [our] VIP business is from Southeast Asia and we do not expect much change in traffic.”
On Thursday it was reported that a cruise ship that had spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by five countries over fears that someone aboard might have coronavirus, had been allowed to dock in the Cambodian coastal city of Sihanoukville.
Union Gaming had observed in its Tuesday memo that regional casino business in Asia Pacific nonetheless had an “elevated profile risk” until such time as there was “greater clarity” on the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The pathogen has now been named officially Covid-19.
Mr McNally also struck a note of caution in comments to GGRAsia. He considered the company had “put in place sufficient preventative measures” to protect its guests and staff from “possible health risks”.
He added: “Our business operations are running normally and are fully operational.”
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