Donaco Int’l Star Vegas Casino in Poipet, Cambodia to See Increased Traffic

Posted on: June 20, 2022, 05:14h. 

Last updated on: June 20, 2022, 02:26h.

This past weekend witnessed the return of full operations of Donaco International’s Star Vegas casino in Cambodia. This was after the lifting of border restrictions between the country and Thailand.

Star Vegas in Cambodia
Donaco International’s Star Vegas in Cambodia. The casino removed all COVID-19 health restrictions last Friday, per government authorization. (Image: Gaming Headlines and Insights)

Donaco announced in a filing with the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) that it commenced operations at Star Vegas on June 17. In addition, it confirmed that the government and the local authorities had lifted the temporary closures of casino operations in the border city of Poipet, where Star Vegas is situated.

Donaco’s gradual transition to full operation will allow it to continue its cost-control strategies, the company added in the filing. Like all operators, it implemented measures across the business as a response to the effects of the pandemic.

The casino had only been operating temporarily and to local traffic for almost two years. On September 25, 2020, Cambodia implemented border-crossing restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19.

One Step at a Time

Amatavivadhana said that the resort’s reopening is a great step in the right direction. He added that the property looks forward to returning to full-scale operations as soon as possible. Porntat acknowledged that there would be an extended ramp-up period before things return to normal. However, the easing of travel restrictions is an encouraging sign.

In tandem with favorable macroeconomic conditions, we will maintain our focus on prudent control of corporate and operation costs,” said Amatavivadhana.

Cambodians cannot gamble legally in the country. However, as foreigners can wager, Thailand has historically been the origin of many Star Vegas customers. In addition, Poipet has a large ex-pat community that can legally gamble.

Ouk Sorphorn, Cambodia’s ambassador to Thailand, told The Post that opening the borders to Thailand would encourage trade and investment and boost the economy. He emphasized its importance on “bilateral trade, tourism, and investment” and the increase of businesses expanding into Cambodia.

Cambodian tourism ministry data shows that the number of tourists traveling from Thailand to Cambodia reached 81,844 last year. It was the leader among the top-ten most visited countries, with China taking second (45,775). In third place was Vietnam, with 22,120.

Help Wanted, Apply Within

NagaWorld, NagaCorp’s Cambodian property, reopened about eight months ago. Now, Star Vegas follows suit. However, all casinos in the country still have difficulty finding quality employees.

Despite the recent reopening permits, the government stated that casinos cannot find an adequate workforce. In addition, some have been struggling to find the funding required to maintain their buildings after the prolonged shutdowns.

As a result, some smaller casino operators are shutting down. Ros Phirun, the deputy director-general of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Industry Department, told the Khmer Times recently that some casinos operating in border regions like Poipet are not seeking license renewal.

Cambodian officials reported that the country has one of the highest vaccination rates in Asia. The country opened its borders for quarantine-free travel for vaccinated visitors last November.

With government intervention, Cambodia’s tourism industry may grow by 16% and 23% in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Before COVID-19, Cambodia had generated $4.9 billion in tourism revenue, which accounted for 32.7% of the total GDP.

The pandemic left the tourism industry in shambles for the past two years because of a lack of tourism. In 2019, Cambodia had 6.61 million tourists. However, in 2020 and 2021, the shutdowns resulted in just 1.5 million international tourists.

The arrival of foreign tourists in Cambodia during the first four months of this year was up sharply to 230,000. This is 180% more than the same period last year.