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Thai king’s death bad luck for border casino

Casino operator Donaco International Ltd, the Australian-listed owner of the Star Vegas Resort and Club in Poipet, saw its fortunes dwindle during the second half of last year following the death of the Thai monarch, it said.

According to a release on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) last Thursday, the company reported that its revenue fell by 14.3 percent to $45 million during the six-month period, while earnings declined by 14.8 percent to $25.5 million. The casino operator, however, still managed to increase net profit after tax to $11 million, a 5 percent increase.

The company attributed the lower revenue to less traffic at its flagship property, the Star Vegas Resort and Club on the Thai-Cambodian border, while its other property, the Aristo in Vietnam, continued to perform well on the back of Chinese VIP gamers.

“Star Vegas however faced difficult trading conditions with a weakening in the Thai economy and in Thai consumer sentiment, following the passing of the late King of Thailand,” CEO Joey Lim Keong Yew said in the report. “We also had one less VIP event in the period, with other events cancelled due to the late King’s passing, leading to a reduction in patronage and turnover during the period.”

The death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej last October started a 100-day mourning period and held Thai gamers back from entering Star Vegas’s gates.

The Cambodian casino saw revenue fall by 16 percent to $34.3 million as daily foot traffic slowed by 15 percent compared to the same time the previous year. Meanwhile, VIP turnover declined by 17 percent as win rates dropped marginally to 2.75 percent.

Deputy CEO Att Asavanund noted that the highly anticipated launch of Star Vegas’s Manchester United partnership with Thailand was cancelled during the 100-day period.

“We are seeing some signs of normality returning to business over recent weeks,” he said. “As a result we anticipate a stronger second half, which has started well.”

Donaco completed its $360 million acquisition of Star Vegas last July and in September began running gaming operations at the neighbouring Star Paradise facility, which is owned by an unnamed Thai partner.

According to Thursday’s release, the company is considering purchasing the Star Paradise, while it plans to utilise its online casino licence by the fourth quarter of this year.

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