More Casino Venues Willing to Resume Operations in Cambodia Following Coronavirus Lockdown, Ministry Representative Says

The casino sector of Cambodia is slowly getting back to normal after it was forced to stop functioning because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A few days ago, Donaco International Ltd, a casino company based in Australia, revealed that it is to reopen its flagship Star Vegas casino situated in Poipet. The company, however, announced that the gambling venue is to operate at a limited capacity. All casino establishments on the territory of Cambodia were ordered to cease operations in April as part of the Government’s efforts to limit the further spread of the Covid-19 infection.

A couple of months ago, in July, the largest casino operator in the country – NagaCorp – which holds a monopoly on the gambling sector in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, reopened its flagship casino NagaWorld. At the time when this happened, there were reports that smaller casino companies were willing to follow NagaCorp’s lead but they were actually unable to do so until some pandemic-related health and safety measures for each venue were officially approved by the Ministry of Health.

At the weekend, Ros Phearun, the deputy director of the Ministry of Economy and Finance told a local media hub that eight casino venues in Sihanoukville had already been given permission to resume operations on a limited capacity. Mr. Phearun also revealed that the Ministry expects more casinos, including the ones situated along the border with Vietnam and the ones based in Bavet, to receive the green light to reopen soon.

Donaco International and NagaCorp Already Resumed Flagship Casinos Operation

As mentioned above, the Australian casino company Donaco International already announced the limited reopening of its Star Vegas Casino in Poipet. The company shared that, even carried out on limited terms, the relaunch of the flagship casino would provide the Star Vegas entity with the chance to test its operational systems whilst making sure its staff members’ and visitors’ health and well-being would be well-protected.

Donaco International also tried to keep expectations more realistic by reminding that the border of Cambodia with Thailand remains shut for the time being, which means that the primary source of Star Vegas customers would remain blocked. The Australian casino company also insisted that its Poipet-based flagship property would not become subject to any material additional expenses because of the fact that its reopening was held on limited terms.

Earlier in September, Donaco International revealed that the lengthy shutdown of the casino industry in Cambodia took its toll and affected its performance in fiscal 2020. The casino company also took into account a non-cash impairment charge amounting to AU$50.5 million due to the fact it downgraded the value of its Star Vegas casino license amid the uncertainties associated with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

So far, 10 casino venues, including Star Vegas and NagaWorld, have resumed operations. However, the number of establishments that have reopened represents only 10% of the overall number of operational gambling venues at the time when the Government imposed the shutdown measures in April. For the time being, it remains unclear how many of these venues are willing to resume operations, especially considering the fact that many of them were established for the purpose of offering online gambling services that were forced to cease operation on January 1st, 2020.