Cambodian casino allowed to reopen despite local virus infections

By Charlotte Lee Updated
US issues business warning against Cambodian casinos

Cambodian casinos closed due to the coronavirus pandemic have been allowed to reopen, despite coronavirus outbreaks occurring in the city of Sihanoukville.

Asgam reports that all three branches of Jin Bei Hotel as well as Jin Bei Casino and Hotel were closed down in late February after two positive COVID-19 cases were detected among guests.

At the time, the casino had been surrounded by police and locked down, with staff and players essentially trapped inside.

A total of 32 locations across the city were subsequently designated as hotspots and another 19 as quarantine facilities, however the governor of Preah Sihanouk, Kuoch Chamroeun, lifted some of those on Sunday, with Jin Bei among them.

There is, however, increasing concern over an outbreak of COVID-19 that continues to rapidly spread across the country.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday issued a ban on all public gatherings, including weddings and religious rituals, after two men separately defied isolation orders and attended weddings in Kampot and Takeo.

Both subsequently tested positive for the virus.

Having initially kept the global pandemic at bay, Cambodia is now in the midst of its first major outbreak with around 900 cases linked to the cluster and almost 60 new cases reported up to 9pm Monday night.

The outbreak is said to have started when four Chinese nationals bribed their way out of a quarantine hotel on February 20 and visited a series of nightclubs.

Two of those Chinese nationals later tested positive to COVID-19.

Phnom Penh integrated resort NagaWorld remains closed after suspending operations in early March, when 11 staff members tested positive to COVID-19 as part of a mass testing regime implemented by the company. 

Donaco settles Star Vegas dispute

Australian casino operator Donaco International has confirmed the conclusion of its dispute with Cambodia’s Star Vegas Casino.

Yahoo Finance reported in January that the dispute, originally announced on March 3, 2020, has concluded.

The accounts for the six months ending December 31, 2020 will fully reflect the positive outcome in accordance with the terms of the settlement, the report said.

In addition, as detailed on December 18, 2020, the business has continued to improve to a positive EBITDA as impacts from coronavirus have moderated from earlier extreme levels.

The company’s debt has been reduced significantly and a solid platform for growth is now emerging, it said.

Donaco’s largest business, Poipet’s Star Vegas Casino and Resort, on the Thai-Cambodia border, was established in 1999 and is the largest and highest quality of the Poipet hotel casinos.

The property has more than 100 gaming tables, more than 1400 pokie machines and 385 hotel rooms.

Donaco’s flagship business is the Aristo International Hotel, a successful boutique casino in northern Vietnam, located on the border with Yunnan Province, China.

Established in 2002, the property has recently been expanded to a brand new five star resort complex with 400 hotel rooms.

Donaco owns a 95 per cent interest in the business, in a joint venture with the Vietnamese government.

Donaco settles case with Star Vegas casino

Australian-headquartered casino operator Donaco International has gained approval from a key lender to settle the casino firm’s legal cases with third parties, including its Cambodian casino venue.

GGR Asia reported in December that an outstanding debt of US$7.8 million payable to Mega Bank was a “notable reduction from the initially borrowed amount of US$100 million and the company is on track to repay all the remaining debt in financial year 2021,” Donaco said in a filing to the Australian Stock Exchange.

The approval by Mega Bank was in relation to the “successful settlement of all legal cases with the Thai-vendor” parties regarding Star Vegas and was “part of the provisions of a facility agreement with the lender,” Donaco noted.

“Donaco is extremely pleased to secure this approval as the company continues to work with Mega Bank and pay down the debt facility under the agreement,” it said.

The firm further noted that interest cover and debt ratio covenants were “not required to be tested” as of December 31 and would only be tested as of June 30, 2021, the end of the current financial year.

The casino operator said in a March filing it was awaiting agreement from Mega Bank on settlement of a longstanding dispute with the Thai vendors of Star Vegas, a property in Poipet on Cambodia’s border with Thailand, a country where casino venues are not permitted.

In a June filing, Donaco stated Mega Bank had “agreed to that deferral” until December 31, of a US$5 million payment owed to it on the principal of its loan to Donaco.

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