LET Group Holdings, the Hong Kong-listed gaming investor formerly known as Suncity Group, said in its FY22 results announcement overnight that its primary focus is now its integrated resort development in Manila, given ongoing challenges at Hoiana in Vietnam and Tigre de Cristal in Russia.
Despite Tigre de Cristal’s contribution helping push LET Group back into EBITDA profitability in FY22 – the company reported EBITDA of HK$77.5 million (US$9.9 million) versus an EBITDA loss of HK$13.3 million (US$1.7 million) in 2021 – it was quick to highlight the Philippines as its most promising opportunity moving forward as construction continues on a US$1 billion hotel and casino development in Manila’s Entertainment City.
LET Group also provided a development update, confirming again that it remains on track for a soft opening in late 2024, although a Grand Opening won’t take place until 2025.
“While we regard the future with prudent optimism, our primary focus remains at the Philippines integrated resort,” the company said.
“In [Philippines listco] Suntrust Resorts Holdings, Inc our Philippines team is actively recruiting seasoned gaming executives on the ground to bring this vision to fruition.
“Since the completion of the construction of the podium level where the main gaming halls will be located in, efforts have pivoted to the construction of the hotel tower, with plans to launch a soft opening before the end of 2024 and a grand opening in 2025. By providing the finest quality, a range of lifestyle amenities, and exceptional services, the Group aims to cement its position as the preferred choice for regional gaming patrons.”
At Hoiana, the integrated resort near Hoi An, Vietnam in which LET Group holds a 34% stake, gross gaming revenues remain subdued due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international tourism and a regional crackdown on junket VIP business.
Nevertheless, gross gaming revenue at Hoiana reached US$82.5 million in 2022, up from just US$20.8 million in 2021, with the US$68.9 million of that GGR coming from its rolling chip operations.
“Hoiana has seen a spike in business volumes and occupancy rates ever since its soft opening in mid-2020, breaking successive records month after month,” LET Group said.
“Although record performance is a notable achievement, its foreigner-only admission policy to the gaming floor currently acts as its key impediment to growth, with visitation hinging on the status of regional travel restrictions. However, as constraints ease and visitation regains momentum, we are confident that Hoiana will cement its stature as Vietnam’s premier hospitality destination.”
Tigre de Cristal, majority-owned by LET Group subsidiary Summit Ascent, contributed to the group revenue from gaming and hotel operations of HK$372.3 million (US$47.4 million), up from HK$265.5 million (US$33.8 million) a year earlier – despite geopolitical tensions due to the war in Ukraine meaning the property has turned its focus to the locals market.
Group-wide, LET Group reported a net loss of HK$138.4 million (US$17.6 million) in 2022, narrowed from a loss of HK$258.3 million (US$32.9 million) in 2021, with revenues rising by 34% to HK$394.3 million (US$50.2 million).