NagaCorp: Phnom Penh casino monopoly will outlast COVID-19


nagacorp-cambodia-casino-monopoly-coronavirusCambodian casino operator NagaCorp says it’s not worried about the COVID-19 pandemic because the company believes its Phnom Penh casino monopoly will outlast the virus.

On Wednesday, NagaCorp issued a trading update on its performance over the first three months of 2020, during which gross gaming revenue at its NagaWorld facility in Cambodia’s capital rose 15% year-on-year to US$368.8m.

The Q1 gains were entirely due to the VIP segment, which saw turnover rise 18% to $9.7b, while VIP gross gambling revenue shot up by one-quarter to $270.2m. NagaCorp credited the surge to VIPs viewing Cambodia as having at least appeared to dodge the worst of the pandemic so far.

Mass market table games had a far more tepid quarter, with buy-ins and revenue both falling 1% from Q1 2019, due mainly to many Asia-Pacific nations restricting their citizens ability to travel due to the pandemic. This also impacted electronic gaming machine performance, which reported credits down 25% and revenue down 15%.

NagaCorp noted that its strong overall showing predated Cambodia’s government ordering the shutdown of all casinos to minimize further spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Unlike most other casino jurisdictions, Cambodia’s shutdown order had no targeted end date, but NagaCorp says its financial reserves of around $473m should allow it to ride out this storm, however long it lasts.

NagaCorp is choosing to take a long view of the current crisis, saying “we believe the life span of the COVID-19 is shorter than the duration of our monopoly which lasts till 2045.” Should Cambodian authorities’ COVID-19 mitigation efforts prove successful, NagaCorp believes the company will “continue its trajectory of growth in the short term especially now the COVID-19 spread is quite well contained in China.”

NagaCorp clearly knows which nation butters its bread, as the trading update contains numerous references to the sun shining out China’s backside. This includes a section lifted straight out of China’s state-run media claiming that the country’s COVID-19 response “has set an example for the world to cope with the contagion and offered experiences to the world in advancing public health governance.”

Or not. Bloomberg reported Wednesday on a US intelligence report accusing China of deliberately underreporting its number of COVID-19 infections and deaths, a possibly self-serving claim but one which jibes with reports of thousands of funeral urns stacked outside funeral homes in Hubei province. China also revised its formula this week for calculating the number of infections, the eighth such revision since the outbreak became public knowledge, making true progress in the viral fight harder to measure.