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NagaWorld appoints US casino specialist

Cambodia casino operator NagaCorp has appointed US and Asian casino-building specialist Mark Anthony Brown as chief operations officer of its NagaWorld division in an effort to entice future high rollers to its planned $350 million Russian casino.

NagaCorp’s board announced the appointment in a statement on Wednesday, saying the firm intended to use Brown’s experience to “achieve a larger market share of the [Russian] regional market, with particular emphasis on enhancing revenue from the Junket/VIP business segment”.

According to the filing, Brown will provide support to the CEO of NagaCorp, Chen Lip Keong, and manage operations, marketing and business development for the NagaWorld arm in the first stages of the Vladivostok-based casino project, which is earmarked to commence operations in 2018.

Brown joins NagaCorp after serving one year as senior vice president of strategic development at Wynn/Encore Las Vegas, and four years as president at Las Vegas Sands Corporation (LVS), where he helped build and launch the Venetian, Four Seasons and Sands Macau hotels.

LVS posted a 39.4 per cent increase in revenue for the first half of 2013, totalling more than $4.07 billion, compared to $2.9 billion for the same period in 2012. Casino earnings alone contributed 89 per cent of LVS’s total revenue for the six months ending on June 30, 2013.

The skyrocketing profits helped elevate casino revenue in Macau – the only Chinese city where gambling is allowed – to a total of $36.5 million in October.

Prior to Brown’s tenure with LVS, he was head of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc, which counts the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza, Trump Marina, Trump Indiana and Trump 29 Palms among its suite hotels.

On September 6, NagaCorp entered into an agreement with Russia’s Primorsky Territory Administration to invest $350 million to build a new hotel and casino in Vladivostok in the country’s far east, citing Russia’s monthly gaming tax of $4,200 per gaming table and $250 per gaming machine as “a favourable tax environment for gaming business”.

The new casino, named Primorsky Entertainment Resort City, will include 1,000 hotel suites, some of which will be sold to foreign and Russian buyers as investments and “second homes”.

According to NagaCorp’s September statement, it will target prospective buyers mainly from northeast China, South Korea and Japan.

Honk Kong gaming analyst for CIMB Michael Ting declined to comment on the appointment, but said the Russian venture was strategically timed.

“Regarding Russia, the advantage for NagaCorp is that their project will open four years after Melco opens, so Naga can monitor the Russian market over the next four years before they open,” he said.

Melco International Development Ltd chairman Lawrence Ho confirmed in July plans to invest in two Russian casino resorts estimated to cost $130 million.

Brown could not be reached for comment yesterday.



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