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Traffic passes in front of the NagaWorld casino and hotel complex in Phnom Penh.
Traffic passes in front of the NagaWorld casino and hotel complex in Phnom Penh. Sreng Meng Srun

VIPs roll into capital’s casino

Nagacorp Ltd, the Hong Kong-listed operator of Cambodia’s NagaWorld casino and hotel complex, posted $3.73 billion in VIP rolling chip volume during the first quarter of 2017, a 34 percent year-on-year increase, while mass market buy-ins and electronic gaming machine (EGM) growth remained steady, the company said in a filing yesterday.

According to the unaudited financial highlights for the first quarter, mass market table play increased 13 percent year-on-year from $149.9 million to $169.4 million, with EGM growth tallied at a 10 percent increase amounting to $417.3 million, up from $381.1 million compared with the same period last year.

The firm did not provide overall earnings for gross gaming revenue (GGR) in its filing.

Grant Govertsen, head of Asia equity research for brokerage firm Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd, said the unanticipated strong growth of VIP volume during the quarter coming on the back of a staggering 65 percent increase in VIP volume during the first quarter of 2016 had prompted his firm to revise upwards its forecasts.

“Ultimately, we believe the VIP volume reported in 1Q17 significantly exceeded consensus, which was likely expecting a decline in VIP volume on a year-on-year basis owing not only to the tough competition, but the fact that the rolling back of junket incentives would impair total volumes,” he wrote in an investor note.

In light of first-quarter figures, Union Gaming increased its full-year VIP volume forecast for NagaCorp to 20 percent year-on-year, while it maintained its projections that mass table and EGM revenue would increase 11 percent and 15 percent, respectively. The firm estimated that NagaCorp’s earnings before interest, taxes, and amortisation (EBITA) for 2017 would be around $274 million.

Govertsen added that the departure of Hong Kong-listed junket operator Jimei International Entertainment Group, which ended its partnership with NagaCorp at the end of January, “clearly didn’t impact volumes”.

Michael Ting, a Hong Kong-based gaming research analyst for CIMB Securities, said that it was no surprise that the exit of Jimei did little to cool VIP growth.

“Jimei is not that big of a junket anymore in Macau,” he wrote in an email. “My estimation is that Naga’s VIP growth was strong across all geographical segments.”

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