Sydney-based casino operator Donaco International Ltd has announced that it is “ready” to reopen its Star Vegas establishment in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town near the Thai border, according to industry publications.
The announcement comes as casino activity in Cambodia picks back up post-Covid-19 and as Thailand further dialled back pandemic-induced border restrictions on May 1, allowing fully-vaccinated tourists entry into the country without additional health checks.
Donaco is only awaiting final approval from the Cambodian government to resume operations at the Star Vegas, which has been shuttered since April 27, 2021, reported Inside Asian Game (iag) on May 1.
In a financial update filed to the Australian Securities Exchange, the casino operator on April 29 reported net revenues of just A$230,000 (US$163,000) in the first quarter of this year – solely from the Aristo International Hotel in northern Vietnam – marking a 91.7 per cent drop on a yearly basis.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) also plunged to a loss of A$1.37 million.
Star Vegas Resort and Club is located in Poipet commune, just northeast of the border gate, while the Aristo International Hotel is located in Lao Cai district’s Kim Tan commune in Vietnam’s Lao Cai province on the border with China.
According to iag, Star Vegas said it is “ready to reopen as Thai borders continue to relax and conditions ameliorate”.
The Macau-based publication quoted non-executive chairman Paul Porntat Amatavivadhana as saying: “The March Quarter has been another challenging period for Donaco, [however] we are ready to resume our Star Vegas casino as conditions improve and once we receive the go ahead from government authorities.”
“As we wait for this to happen, we are exploring additional options to protect the balance sheet and guarantee the business remains in a sustainable position until broader conditions improve.
“We remain optimistic about Donaco’s long term future. Vaccination rates have increased, leading to the easing of borders and travel restrictions in the regions we operate. It will take some time before travel patterns return to normal, and we are prepared for when international tourism will steadily resume again.
“We are also optimistic as the construction of Sapa airport in Lao Cai presents a significant opportunity for Aristo to attract a significant number of new customers, with an airport capacity of 1.5 million passengers a year.
“We are almost at the end of this bumpy journey, and as always, I would like to sincerely thank you, our shareholders, for your patience and loyalty,” he said.
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan welcomed the casino’s upcoming reopening, saying the establishment would draw in more holidaymakers from Thailand.
“The resumption of casino operations will attract more tourists from Thailand for gambling as the Thai government just decided to gradually reopen their border – this is an impetus for the tourism sector,” he said.
Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn hailed the reopening of the land border and expressed confidence that the move would boost the economies of the neighbouring countries. “I do think that the reopening of the border will improve our bilateral trade, tourism exchange and investment,” he said.
Although Cambodia-Thailand border checkpoints reopened on May 1, according to the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok, health measures are being strictly enforced.
The embassy said that travellers entering Thailand must present their Thailand Pass, national vaccination card, insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical coverage and a negative Covid-19 PCR test result.