COVID-19 pandemic has made operations in Donaco International flagship Cambodian gaming venue to slow to a crawl. The Australian-listed Donaco on Wednesday informed investors that the company had chosen to close “most of” the hotel at its Star Vegas casino in Poipet, near the border with Thailand until at least April 5.
Donaco stated that 2,430 players per day were the total casino visitation to Star Vegas, averaged over the first 22 days of March, down by 15% from the early 22 days of February. Though, Donaco noted that its VIP gambling turnover had risen by 9% over the same span, showing that high-roller traffic remains healthy. Nevertheless, Donaco has arranged unpaid leave for many Star Vegas employees for March and April, while also reducing total headcount and deferring some ‘capital expenditure projects.’
Aristo International Hotel in northern Vietnam that is operated by Donaco has also seen “decreased numbers,” forcing the company to place unnecessary expenditure and all non-essential staff on hold until further notice. The pandemic has spoiled the bounce the Donaco which hoped to enjoy after finally resolving its multi-year legal dispute with some Thai vendors at Star Vegas. The result of senior management upheaval and financing issues has made Donaco’s shares to trade at less than half their value at the start of the year.
Two hundred and thirty former workers of Hao Cheng Casino in Sihanoukville had staged a protest outside the site, seeking salaries their employer had failed to pay after terminating their contract earlier this year. Following the government’s new ban on online gambling taking effect at the start of 2020, the casino had failed to pay its former staff because of its owner being ‘financially constrained’.The casino reached a satisfactory arrangement with around 170 of the protesters on Wednesday, while the rest reportedly agreed to continue working at the casino.
There was a similar protest outside Sihanoukville’s Yaduoli Casino this week. Around 100 staff accused their employer of failing to pay their February wages, which had already been reduced due to the slowdown in business caused by the online ban. The casino’s management reportedly agreed to pay the overdue salaries by Wednesday after mediations. The online gambling ban decimated Cambodia’s once-thriving casino sector, with Sihanoukville being particularly hard hit. However, some casinos did not close due to connections with senior government officials.