A little over one year ago Ho Wah Genting Bhd (HWGB) was hoping that its casino in Cambodia would contribute around 60% of pre-tax profits over the following two or three years, and that its business would grow between 15% and 20%. In anticipation of an expansion of market share, the company set up regional offices in Bangkok, Penang and Kuala Lumpur. The casino is in the border town of Poipet, about two-and-a-half hours by road from Bangkok, Thailand, and is a popular tourist destination. A representative office in China was hoped to promote the town to Chinese visitors.
Unfortunately things did not turn out as planned and HWGB casino operations incurred losses. This was blamed on several factors – the break-out of the bird flu epidemic, a losing streak at the casino and higher than anticipated advertising and promotion costs. Now, with renewed optimism, the company expects that its casino operations will be the main earnings driver this year.
At the AGM yesterday, 26 May, first quarter figures were quoted by the executive chairman as showing that the company is “back on track.” He added that many patrons are repeat customers, around 90% coming from Thailand.
The Ho Wah Genting Casino & Hotel has 216 rooms, entertainment and restaurants. The casino has100 gaming tables over two floors and is open 24/7. The resort is set in the special entertainment zone set up by the Cambodian government for international visitors, and the company offers holiday packages for tourists from Malaysia and Singapore. When asked if the Integrated Resorts in Singapore would pose a threat to business, the company stated that they would not as only 5% of visitors were from Singapore. (E-05.27.05)
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