f the 65 casinos operating in Cambodia, few are as sophisticated and none are as successful as Phnom Penh's NagaWorld. On any given night the capital's only casino is heaving.
Run by Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp, NagaWorld has been on the rise as one of the most profitable of Asia's smaller casinos, consistently reporting strong earnings that outpace all its local rivals. The property, often blighted by construction surrounding its riverside location in central Phnom Penh, has been bucking the downward trend as the region continues to feel the chill of the downturn in Asia's leading gambling center Macau -- the result of China's anti-corruption drive.
In the first half of 2016, NagaCorp's year-on-year net profit increased 24% to $125.2 million and its gross gaming revenue 10% to $277 million, outperforming many of the region's casinos as Macau's gross gaming revenue sunk 11%.
Annual net profit has soared from $44.1 million in 2010 to $172.6 million in 2015, and the company's stock price has more than doubled in the last five years to HK$4.30 as of early December.
The casino and hotel, which has 713 rooms and 87 mass-market gaming tables, is on a determined growth path, recently opening a luxury retail space and proceeding with plans to open a second complex, Naga 2, with more than 1,000 rooms and between 200-300 tables, within 2017.
NagaCorp's Chairman Timothy McNally told an industry gathering in November that the company is already planning a Naga 3, complete with more hotel facilities and possibly a theme park.
NagaCorp also plans to launch a gaming resort in Vladivostok, Russia, by 2018, and up until recently was pursuing a casino license in Cyprus before pulling out at the final bid stage. The company would only say that the decision to withdraw was made in the "best interests" of its shareholders.
Company executives say growth in the business has been driven by rising tourism numbers to Cambodia, particularly from China, efforts to attract players shying away from Macau, and a further upturn in the country's already thriving economy.
NagaWorld, which attracts the so-called "poor man's VIP" market, has been working with Chinese travel agents and Cambodian independent airline operator Bassaka Air to bring more Chinese visitors via scheduled flights from Changsha and Xi'an.