NagaCorp’s Russian casino on schedule; Ho not interested in Crimea, Sochi

NagaCorp's Russian casino on schedule; Ho not interested in Crimea, Sochi

This week, NagaCorp chairman Tim McNally told GGRAsia that the company’s in-development casino in Russia’s Primorye gaming zone near Vladivostok was “still going forward on schedule and we anticipate [it] would open in the summer of 2018.”

NagaCorp's Russian casino on schedule; Ho not interested in Crimea, SochiNagaCorp broke ground on its Naga Entertainment City project (artist’s impression pictured) last spring with the help of developer China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd. This June, NagaCorp VP Hau Chang Ping said the casino’s first phase – the cost of which has been estimated between $50m and $70m – would open by the end of 2018.

McNally said this week that it had taken NagaCorp “some time just to work through the standard local building requirements” but with all the necessary permits obtained, “we are actually in the building phase. Right now we are pretty much on schedule.”

Last week saw NagaCorp release unaudited financial figures covering the first nine months of 2016 at its flagship NagaWorld property in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The company said VIP turnover was up 11% year-on-year to $6.6b, while mass market table drop rose 13% to $456.5m and electronic gaming machines “bills-in” gained 15% to $1.14b.

There is currently only one operational casino in Primorye, the Lawrence Ho-controlled Tigre de Cristal. This week, VP of hotel and restaurant operations Stylianos Tsifetakis told Russia’s TASS news agency that the property was currently averaging 1000-1200 visitors per day – of which around 950 are local residents – down from its summer peak of around 3000 per day.

Last week, Russian media sources reported that Ho’s Summit Ascent Holdings, which holds a controlling stake in Tigre de Cristal, was eyeing a similar project in Russia’s newest gaming zone in the Crimea, potentially in partnership with Macau casino operator SJM Holdings, which was founded by Ho’s father Stanley Ho.

Those rumors have since been scuttled by Summit Ascent executive director Craig Ballantyne, who told Betting Business Russia that the company was “definitely not planning to invest in the gambling zones located in the Republic of Crimea and Sochi.”