Donaco International Limited says trading at its flagship casino property in northern Vietnam hit record highs in the first three months of 2014. Donaco chairman Stuart McGregor told shareholders at Tuesday’s extraordinary general meeting that average gaming table revenue per day at the Lao Cai International Hotel hit $5,737, up 17% year-on-year. For the first nine months of Donaco’s fiscal year ending March 31, gaming turnover is up 21% and gaming revenue is up 29%. The Lao Cai currently boasts eight licensed gaming tables as well as 36 electronic gaming machines (EGM).
Lao Cai is located on the border with China’s Yunnan province and is popular with the region’s VIP players. The impressive gains in Q1 table revenue were achieved mostly in January and February, as March witnessed a general slowdown in Chinese tourism due to “terrorist incidents” as well as the fallout from the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370 (two-thirds of the passengers were from China). Around 80% of Lao Cai’s business comes via high rollers, but the VIP win rate “turned against us” in March.
Donaco doesn’t plan to break out specifics on win rate until the Lao Cai property’s second phase opens. Donaco says the expanded five-star hotel and casino remains on track for its soft opening on Sunday, May 18. The expansion will boost the number of hotel rooms from 34 to 428. The property does business with around 40 approved junket operators and the previous limit on hotel rooms required the imposition of a roster system. The expansion will also add an unspecified number of new gaming tables and Lao Cai’s existing license allows for up to 300 EGMs.
McGregor also teased shareholders on the company’s other expansion plans, saying Donaco was “not intended to be a single property company.” Donaco had previously announced there were “two opportunities in particular that were close to finalization” but McGregor cautioned that although both these options “remain live possibilities, it no longer appears likely that they will be concluded soon.” As a result, the company had “moved our attention to other opportunities in our pipeline” but McGregor said Donaco was “extremely disciplined” in its investment approach and “will not overpay for any asset.” Donaco is owned by Joey and Benjamin Lim, nephews of Genting boss Lim Kok Thay.