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Casino Billionaire Chen Lip Keong Places Bets On Russian Expansion

March 6, 2020
Casino Billionaire Chen Lip Keong Places Bets On Russian Expansion
Despite the coronavirus outbreak taking a toll on gaming, Chen Lip Keong is trying his luck in Russia: his NagaCorp is building a $300 million casino hotel outside Vladivostok, due to open in 2021. "I like the entrepreneurial spirit behind the development," Chen says. Booming growth at his Cambodian casino complex helped push Chen's net worth up 6% to $5.3 billion, now at No. 4 on our list. NagaCorp's share price has nearly doubled since November 2017 when the Naga2 extension opened in Phnom Penh.

Xhen, 72, has used the monopoly license he won in 1994 to ride Cambodia's economic reemergence from decades of war and, more recently, a wave of investment and tourism from China into Cambodia. In 2006, NagaCorp became the first casino operator - and the first Cambodia-based company - to list in Hong Kong; today it has annual revenue of almost $1.8 billion, up 19% last year, and a market capitalization of HK$48 billion ($6.2 billion).

A former doctor, Chen got a sweet deal in 1994: a 70-year license that includes a gaming monopoly in Phnom Penh and the surrounding 200 kilometers that was recently extended to 2045, and special tax breaks. "Dr. Chen was in the right place at the right time" says Michael Zhu, senior vice president at U.S. gaming consultancy The Innovation Group.

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