NagaCorp Bets on Becoming “Sizable Riverine Integrated Resort” in Asia Pacific

NagaWorld casino operator makes huge comeback on its earnings in FY22, with fervent plans to complete Naga 3 and become a sizable integrated resort in the region
NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Returning to the black with $107.2 million net profit last fiscal year, casino operator NagaCorp Ltd, is betting on its unique casino monopoly in Phnom Penh alongside its combined NagaWold complex to become one of the “most sizable riverine integrated resorts and entertainment centres in Asia Pacific”.

Its filing with Hong Kong Stock Exchange on February 8 revealed its commitment to complete the development of Naga 3 project to stimulate and enhance Cambodia’s tourism industry.

Together with Naga 3, its existing complexes would feature around 5,000 hotel rooms, 1,300 gaming tables, 4,500 electronic gaming machines and other non-gaming attractions.

“Approximately 93 percent of Naga 3’s gross floor area will feature non-gaming offerings, which is in line with the group’s long term strategy of offering a comprehensive suite of lifestyle products and services,” it said.

The earnings growth came amid ongoing protests by NagaWorld workers who were part of a mass layoff of 1,329 workers in April 2021, including members of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees of NagaWorld (LRSU).

The layoff was conducted under the pretext of reduced income because of Covid-19 and the months-long closure ordered by the government as cases peaked that year, which saw its first-ever net loss since going public in 2008.

While protesters have been demanding the reinstatement of 365 workers and fair compensation in accordance with the Labour Law, 11 leaders and members of LRSU have been charged and released, with 20 others fined for alleged misdemeanours.

However, union president Chhim Sithar remains under pre-detention custody without bail, a move that has been criticised by Cambodian rights-based groups Licadho and Central, and elicited the concern of the US and Australian embassies.

The group’s net profit for the financial year ended December 31, 2022 (FY22) is a major turnaround from a net loss of $147.02 million in 2021, as revenue surged 104 percent to $460.7 million. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) rose nearly 100 percent at $445.9 million from $223.5 million, the filing showed.

The improved results were attributed to the growth in GGR in its mass market segment where mass market tables GGR stood at $203.8 million in FY22 compared to $66.5 million last year.

“Given the focus on the mass market segment, NagaWorld continued to benefit from the reasonably sized domestic captive market in Cambodia, as well as stable visitation to the property in 2022.

“The overall steady business recovery also has been supported by the gradual recovery of Cambodia tourism and visitation to the property in line with the easing of travel restrictions regionally,” it said.

Going forward, it said Cambodia’s upward trajectory of recovery with the large influx of business migration and foreign direct investments, and increased bilateral free trade agreements, would draw more international tourist arrivals and business-related travellers, especially from China and ASEAN countries.

“The company is optimistic about the recovery of the tourism sector and believes that the long term prospects and outlook will remain stable,” it added.