CASINO

Macau casino junkets look to Vietnam to offset Macau’s VIP gambling slump

TAGs: crown international club, junket operators, Vietnam

crown-international-club-vietnam-casinoMacau casino junket operators are increasingly looking to Vietnam to help offset their falling VIP gambling business.

The Crown International Club in Da Nang – which opened in 2010 under the name Silver Shores – has become a priority for junkets, with industry insiders estimating the property’s VIP gambling turnover rose to $3b per month this year. That sum represents twice the VIP turnover enjoyed at some larger regional gaming venues, including Solaire in the Philippines, NagaWorld in Cambodia and Genting Highlands in Malaysia.

Ben Lee, a consultant at iGamiX, told Reuters that the property, which is owned by Chinese businessman Hui Kong, was a prime example of “a casino going under the radar that is doing extremely well.” Lee estimated that there were around 25 charter flights each week shuttling Chinese VIP gamblers to the facility on Vietnam’s south central coast.

As Macau’s VIP business imploded over the past 18 months, junkets like Hengsheng Group have been inking deals with Crown International. At least 10 junkets are now believed to be exclusively focused on doing business with Vietnam’s seven casinos.

Junket operator Hugo Huang, who also ferries Chinese VIPs to Macau and Cambodia, said his customers “like the environment [at Crown] much better,” thanks in part to the property’s proximity to Da Nang’s legendary beaches and other cultural attractions.

Crown International offers 13 VIP gaming rooms and its total gaming floor is around one-quarter the size of the average Macau casino. The non-gaming amenities are also paltry compared to the latest Macau integrated resorts, but Crown International is embarking on a $600m expansion that will double its number of hotel rooms and add duty-free shopping options while also expanding its casino space.

International casino operators have so far given Vietnam a wide berth, based on their belief that a large resort would only be worth the required billions of investment dollars if Vietnam relaxes its prohibition on local residents entering casinos.

Vietnam’s government has been toying with the idea of allowing locals to enter casinos, provided they’re willing to pay a casino entry levy and can demonstrate the financial capacity to absorb gambling losses. The government has reportedly also concluded that its $4b investment requirement was twice as large as it needed to be in order to attract the interest of major international casino firms.

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