The chairman and chief executive of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Bhd, Lim Kok Thay (pictured), says there are signs of “nascent recovery” in gaming across Asia. The veteran tycoon however warned of “significant challenges” in the year ahead, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to have a negative impact on business.
Genting operates casinos in a number of jurisdictions. It is the parent company of casino operator Genting Malaysia Bhd, which operates Resorts World Genting, the only licensed casino complex in Malaysia.
In addition, Genting controls Genting Singapore Ltd, the operator of Resorts World Sentosa, one of Singapore’s two casino resorts.
“While the regional gaming market has continued to register nascent recovery, significant challenges will persist in the coming year given the negative impact of the pandemic on the sector,” Mr Lim stated in a message included in Genting’s 2020 annual report, published on Wednesday.
He added: “The group maintains a cautious stance on the near-term prospects of the leisure and hospitality industry. The outlook for the global tourism, leisure and hospitality industries remains highly uncertain.”
The Genting boss stressed that, despite the “unprecedented challenges” related to Covid-19, the group planned to go ahead with its ongoing development projects. “If the current Covid-19 situation prolongs, we will re-assess the scheduled timelines,” he added.
In the meantime, Genting would continue to take “proactive measures to optimise productivity and improve operational efficiency to manage this extremely challenging operating environment,” Mr Lim stated. “We will also assess any good business opportunities that may arise from this ‘new normal’.”
Looking at 2020, Mr Lim noted that the tourism and gaming industries were among the sectors hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. “For the first time in our history, we had to temporarily close all our resort operations worldwide at intermittent periods, in compliance with respective government directives,” he said.
Besides gaming operations in Malaysia and Singapore, the Genting group also runs casinos in the United Kingdom, Egypt, the Bahamas and the United States.
The reopening of Resorts World Genting – following a temporary closure from mid-March 2020 until mid-June 2020 – “was well received,” Mr Lim said, nothing however that the Covid-19 situation remained “fluid” in Malaysia. “The near-term recovery momentum of the operations at Resorts World Genting will be impacted following the temporary closure of the resort from January 22, 2021 to mid-February 2021,” he noted.
A “key growth initiative” for Resorts World Genting this year would be the launch of the outdoor theme park Genting SkyWorlds. Mr Lim confirmed the attraction is set to open “by the middle of 2021”. It will feature in its rides themes linked to the 20th Century Fox movie brand.
Regarding Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore, it “experienced a very significant dip in international and regional visitor arrivals in 2020,” Mr Lim said. The property was closed from April 6 to June 30, 2020, in line with measures by the Singapore government to contain the local transmission of Covid-19.
The Genting boss however reaffirmed the group’s commitment to the expansion of Resorts World Sentosa, and a capital expenditure budget of SGD4.5 billion (US$3.4 billion). A spending commitment of that amount was made respectively by Singapore’s two casino resort operators – the other being Las Vegas Sands Corp, promoter of Marina Bay Sands – in April 2019, as the Singapore government said it would extend the duopoly rights of the two operators until 2030.
“Revisions to design works… incorporating health and safety measures are ongoing to adapt to the post-pandemic environment,” Mr Lim said, in reference to the planned expansion of Resorts World Sentosa.
Mr Lim added that Genting Singapore continued to be “engaged in its pursuit” of a casino licence in Japan. He said the firm would “evaluate the conditions” of request-for-proposal processes for a Japan integrated resort, including whether these met Genting group’s investment criteria.
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