Asian casino operator Donaco International Ltd would be interested in building a new facility in Vietnam if the government there were to relax the ban on gambling by locals as has been mooted.
So said Joey Lim Keong Yew, Donaco’s chief executive, in an interview with The Star newspaper in Malaysia.
Last January Vietnam flagged – via government decree – a three-year trial programme for such business. The venues to host such a trial have yet to be announced. It is not currently clear that there would be a longer-term relaxation, even if the trial goes ahead.
Donaco – a firm listed on the Australian Securities Exchange – currently makes most of its gaming revenue by making use of Southeast Asia’s patchwork approach to casino legalisation. Its Vietnam venue Aristo International Hotel in Lao Cai, on Vietnam’s northern border with China, currently draws many players from the latter nation, where casino gambling is illegal. Its main Cambodian venue, Star Vegas Resort and Club, at Poipet, draws many customers from neighbouring Thailand, where casinos are also banned. In both Vietnam and Cambodia, locals are currently barred from casino gambling.
Mr Lim was quoted in the newspaper interview saying the completion of a new regional airport by the end of 2018 could help the firm’s existing Vietnam business, as the current nearest air hub to Aristo International – Noi Bai International Airport, in the country’s capital Hanoi – is a four-hour drive away.
The chief executive also said the firm would shortly – possibly in three to five years – undertake some real estate investment in Lao Cai.
“In the next few years, we will be undertaking redevelopment and urban regeneration where the original Aristo International Hotel was located, which faces the Red River between Lao Cai and Yunnan province, China,” he was quoted saying.
“The redevelopment of this prime piece of property and its adjacent property will see a potential gross development value of approximately US$100 million to US$200 million,” he stated.
In the interview, Mr Lim also indicated an expansion soon into online gambling including sports betting.
“We will be launching our online gambling platform next month via a partnership with another company, which has already developed the system. The partnership will be done following a revenue share model,” he stated.
The company had flagged via its annual report for the 12 months to June 30, 2016, filed in October last year, a move into online gambling, saying it had a licence that was “yet to be utilised”. In its latest annual report filed last month, Donaco said some of its new junket partners would “commence offering online gaming in September 2017″.
Mr Lim added in comments to The Star that Donaco also aimed to develop a social gaming platform by early 2018.
"The positive underlying contribution from each of our operating segments provides a strong start to the year"
Chief executive of lottery and gaming supplier IGT