Summit Ascent Holdings, the company that operators the Tigre de Cristal casino in the Russian Far East has reported exponential growth at the casino during the first six months of 2016. The report which was published in September shows that the casino witnessed a 700 percent increase since its opening in November 2015 in monthly rolling chip turnover. Hong Kong billionaire Lawrence Ho who is the chairman of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd controls Summit Ascent.
The company stated that Tigre de Cristal monthly rolling chip turnover during its first month was HKD258 million. This went up to HKD2.0 billion during July 2016 and further climbed to HKD2.2 billion in August 2016. Summit Ascent’s director of corporate finance and strategy Eric Landheer believes that this strong growth is a result of the company’s efforts to sign two new Macau junket operators in June and also ramp up existing junket operators, according to a report on GGRAsia.
Summit Ascent has targeted the Northeast Asian market which is not too far away from the Primorsky Krai Integrated Entertainment Zone. The special zone has been allocated by the Russian government as a site for casino developers and to date, four casino licenses have been issued. However, the Tigre de Cristal casino is currently the only casino opened in Primorsky Krai and is capitalizing fully on the lack of competition.
The first phase of the Tigre de Cristal included the opening of a hotel with 121 rooms and business at the casino has ensured that hotel room occupancy rates is close to 100 percent consistently. There are over 300 million Asian customers who can hop on a flight and be at the casino in three hours. Close to 130 million of these customers live in North China.
In a statement to the Asian gambling industry news outlet, Landheer said; “The plan now is to open up a portion of phase two in the second half of 2019; and then open up the remainder of it approximately a year afterwards. We want to maximise the opportunity, without creating overcapacity prior to the demand being there. I don’t think we always necessarily subscribe to the ‘Build it and they will come’ philosophy. While we think that’s potentially a valid philosophy depending on the market in which you operate, we are continuing to be measured and prudent in our expansion approach.”
Landheer did not give specifics with regards to how income and expenses were broken down at the Tigre de Cristal but stated that around 25 to 30 percent of revenue comes from the VIP gaming segment and confirmed that the profit margins continued to remain attractive. Landheer stated that another reason for the strong performance of the casino was due to the fact that it did not provide junket operators with a credit facility in order to minimize its risks. Summit Ascent had earlier stated that it would open the second phase of the Tigre de Cristal in 2018 but has now postponed the opening to the first half of 2019.