Naga Corp’s expansion underscores the rising tide of Chinese tourists heading to Cambodia to shop, but also to gamble.
The country collected US$48 million in taxes from its casino industry last year, the reported, a 40 per cent increase from 2015.
Naga World is not only doubling its capacity – Naga2 is adding 300 new gaming tables, 2,500 slot machines and 903 rooms – but also building an environment that resonates with its Chinese guests. Aside from the Chinese-character signs spread around the entire complex’s grounds, the lobby’s centrepieces are huge gold sculptures of a four-faced Buddha, regarded as a deity for good fortune, and a towering money tree whose gold leaves flutter with the breeze.
A VIP club is named Jin Lai Hui, which means “come money, come” and duty free shops are run by China Duty Free Group.
But while Cambodia becomes the new haunt for Chinese gamers, long-time favourite Macau is losing its shine.
The latter’s gaming revenue in 2014 took a nosedive as President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign began to fire on all cylinders.
Close scrutiny of spending, travelling and capital outflows of Chinese citizens, especially those holding power, kept high rollers away from the Asian gaming hub.
Macau’s casino revenues declined for 26 consecutive months from June 2014 to July 2016.
They dropped 34.3 per cent to a five-year low of 230.84 billion patacas (US$28.92 billion) in 2015, according to official data.
From January 2014 to July 2017, the market values of Sands China, Wynn Macau and MGM China Holdings fell by more than 40 per cent, and SJM Holdings plummeted as much as 74 per cent.
Naga Corp’s market capitalisation, in contrast, soared more than 40 per cent.
“As China visitation climbed 44 per cent year on year in just the first eight months this year, we are positive this trend will continue quite robustly,” Tan said. We only penetrated it two or three years ago.” To deepen that penetration, Naga Corp’s founder and chief executive Chen Lip Keong said the company planned to build more casinos in countries around China, including Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Nepal. It curves around China [...] and the north-eastern part of Russia, and the north of Mongolia,” said Chen, one of Malaysia’s wealthiest businessmen, with a net worth of US$1.6 billion.