lot of industry experts agree that India may be the next big thing in Asian gaming. Taking this into account, Silver Heritage Group recently began trading on Australia’s stock exchange and is eyeing the Indian market. Tell us about your plans in the region.
There are 430 million people in India living within a day’s drive of the Nepal border. The border is completely free for Indians to pass over – similar to Californians to Nevada. Indian people love life, they are always entertaining, weddings go on for days and gambling is cultural at certain festivals. We have operated our own casino in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu for nearly 2 years and understand what Indian players want in terms of entertainment. We hope to eventually build a number of beautiful resorts along the Nepal / India border which will feature, conventions, retail, high end dining, pool and spa, spacious grounds and will include a casino within the complex. We are about to launch the first of these in a central Nepal city just 12 km from the Indian border. There is nothing like this, not even a 2 star hotel, anywhere along the 1000km border shared between Nepal and India.
Tiger Palace Resort will be the first purpose -built resort casino in South Asia
Will you target the mass market as well as the VIP market?
Silver Heritage has always been about the mass market – we manage or operate casinos only where we see a competitive advantage and secure returns on investment which do not rely on super high end VIPs to visit our resorts from hundreds of miles away. We have always been known as the go-to group for small to mid-size casino opportunities in Asia and since we listed the company in Australia earlier this year the opportunities have not stopped coming. The Chinese VIP sector is overcrowded and overrated.
Hundreds of millions of Asian middle class of all nationalities aren’t looked after properly in Macau and we intend to make sure we make them happy closer to home and give them an amazing experience without spending billions of dollars to do so
What are the plans after opening the resort?
We have an amazing team on the ground in Nepal – some of the industry’s best-in-class resort openers. We have 5 year’s experience in Nepal and 2 years running our own casino so this market isn’t new for us. We want to open and knuckle down and get the job done. We have great supportive shareholders who believe in the story – so it's time to deliver for the entire Silver Heritage team.
What are your views on the recent downturn of the Macau gaming industry? Do you think this is an opportunity for India?
By 2030 India will have 30% more middle class consumption than China and 4 times that of the USA
India is an opportunity on its own irregardless of China. Indian customers are not looked after properly in Macau or anywhere else frankly speaking. Goa (the home of gaming in India) is a series of river boats and some slot parlours in hotels. It’s quite low key.
Remember Silver Heritage are not going to be operating in India. Foreign investor participation in gaming in India is prohibited or at best very difficult to navigate. Nepal, its Northern neighbor has had legal casinos for 50 years. It is a little gem. The country has an amazing worforce and the Government is “can-do” and highly supportive in terms of foreign investment, particularly in tourism.
What new developments are still to come, and how will they be funded?
For now we are not looking beyond delivering the first Tiger Palace Resort and making it a success. Having said that – we are the first mover in our market and are also always looking for strategic partners interested in helping us expand our presence meeting demand from what we think is the world’s biggest untapped gaming market.
Are you planning to bring your Asian experience onto casino floors located in America or Europe?
We like the idea although we are very focused on Asia today. We are particularly interested in how the great team at Lucky Dragon in Vegas do – we think they have an incredible project and will be watching how they perform – we think they will knock it out of the park!