IAG DECEMBER 2016 WEB - page 8

Cover Story
Heritage. Founded by Tim Shepherd and Mike Bolsover in 2003,
Silver Heritage is the only foreign company to be granted a gaming
license inNepal andhas spent the past two years running a number
ofmini-casinos inone-star hotels along theNepal-Indiaborder.
But its watershed moment will be the opening of Tiger Palace
Resort inBhairahawa in early 2017 –Nepal’s first five-star resort and
oneof twoSilverHeritagehasplanned for the region targeteddirectly
at players from India.
“There are 430million Indians within a day’s drive of Tiger, so
it’s about developing a product for them closer to home,” explains
“The Nepal-India border is 1,000km long and although we
don’t have a monopoly, we happen to be the first by many years
on that border.
“We see India as the next big thing. Gaming is legal inGoa and
also inSikkambut the facilities aremodest. Anumber of states have
discussed legalizing gaming. The fact is that Indians culturally and
generally do like gaming.
“So I do believe there is plenty of opportunity along that border.
And the fact is that border casinos are a thing.Macau technically is a
border casino town. It is on the border of an enormous country but
it is still aborder town.
“We are the first operators on that border but we won’t be the
last. I thinkwewill be very successful andwhenwe do,more people
will see that and come in very quickly.”
Shepherd points out, though, that Silver Heritage has worked
closely with the Nepalese government to get to where it is today.
Its promised US$100 million investment makes the company the
largest foreign investor in tourismNepal has ever had, while it will
also become the country’s largest single employer of locals outside
of the government itself.
Of course, winning government approval isn’t always so easy.
Long before NagaWorld launched its land-based operation in
Phnom Penh, its predecessor, Naga Casino Resorts, began life in
1995 as a floating cruise ship on the Mekong River. Its original
“Thereare430million Indians
withinaday’sdriveofTiger, so
it’saboutdevelopingaproduct for
them closer tohome.”
purpose was simply to help owner Ariston raise the funds to
build a proposed US$1.3 billion entertainment hub along the
Sihanoukville coastline.
Thatdeal, signed in thesameyearNagaCasinoset sail, included
a 20-year monopoly to operate casinos nationwide and an eight
year tax exemption, but also caused tremendousdivisionwithin the
governmentwhichultimately culledprogress. Fortunately, Ariston’s
floating casino was performing so well that moving to solid land
was a no-brainer – the government throwing in exclusivity for
NagaWorld to operate within a 200km radius until 2035 to soften
the Sihanoukville blow.
“When this company commenced operations, there was a great
deal of concern about the political stability of the country as well as
a lot of economic uncertainty,” saysMcNally ofNagaWorld’s deal.
“So it is important to assess very carefully the license that you
receive– can youprotect it?How longwill the licensebe?Howmany
tables andmachines can you have? The facilities you can offer, the
types of games you canoperate – those things are verymuchpart of
the front end assessment.
“You also have to look at the existingmarket size and valuation
and then I think you have to look at the reach and what kind of
dynamics are coming into the country in terms of infrastructure –
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