Thai Casinos in Cambodia

Poipet casinos - December 9, 2003
Earlier this year when the border casinos were in the news, we asked for photos to show what they actually looked like. 'John G' sent in a few shots of the Poipet area casinos. It is no Las Vegas, but it gives an idea of what the area is like.

Right: The Holiday Poipet

Above: The visa office - notice the entrance to the 'Holiday Palace' behind it.

Above: The border

Above: The Holiday Palace

Above and below: the interior of the Holiday Palace

Thai gamblers unable to visit casinos - Online Casinos, September 8, 2005
The restriction of Sa Kaew's provincial administration of border passes to Poi Pet in Cambodia has left many Thais bitter, as they are now unable to visit casinos in the city. Thailand has no legal casinos, and, in the past, many Thais traveled to Poi Pet in order to gamble, but now they are unable to do so...

New bets on Thai casinos - Casino City Times, June 27, 2005
As reported by the Australian: "The prospects for Australia's gaming tycoons of new opportunities in Thailand have improved, with the Thai Government pushing for a referendum on legalising casinos.
"The moves follow a series of raids on illegal casinos last week, prompting Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to call for a debate on the issue.
"…Mr Shinawatra said a vote on the issue could be held at the next election.
"The debate will be closely watched by Kerry Packer's Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd and Victorian gaming giant Tabcorp - both of whom are expected to be among many gaming operators keen on any Thai casino licence.
"…PBL is expected to be well positioned for any change as Mr Packer already knows Mr Shinawatra - a popular leader who made his fortune building a telecommunications empire before entering politics.
"…PBL has an Asian gaming joint venture with Melco International Development, a company chaired by Macau's former gambling monopolist, Stanley Ho, through which they are committed to pursuing further Asian gaming opportunities…"

Thais visit Cambodian casinos for New Years - Rolling Good Times, April 13, 2005
"…Pol. Lt. Col. Niruti Ruengjintana, deputy superintendent of the Aranya Prathet immigration office, said that he expected around 5,000 Thais to cross over into the Cambodian border town of Poi Pet this morning, and that more were likely to follow in the afternoon…"
Ban on building material for border casino complex - Construction violates agreement, says army - Bangkok Post, July 29, 2004
A ban has been put on the movement of building materials from Thailand to a new casino complex under construction in Cambodia, adjacent to the Chong Sa-ngam border checkpoint in Si Sa Ket province...
New casino at border upsets army - Bangkok Post, July 28, 2004
...A source said the casino was expected to be completed in the next few months. It was being built by an affiliate of Star Vegas Co, which operates another casino in Cambodia's Poipet town opposite Ban Klongluek in Sa Kaeo's Aranyaprathet district. Thai businessman Sombun Charoensukkraisri, owner of Star Vegas Co, had invested in the 300-million-baht casino opposite Si Sa Ket in partnership with a Cambodian military officer, Lt-Gen Tia Sot.
Border casinos: Thaksin acts to stem exodus of New Year gamblers - The Nation, December 23, 2003
"Beware! You may lose your money out there, and even if you win and bring back a lot of money, your cash could be seized. The videos will record your movements," Thaksin said... Niranuj Sawatkamthon, manager of the Holiday Palace casino in Poi Pet, said yesterday that the stricter screening procedure at the checkpoint had delayed travellers and prompted complaints from many foreign tourists.
This is a direct blow against Thai police and military men behind the casinos and a further indication of Thaksin's power and confidence.
Border casinos open again - April 17, 2003
Does any reader have a photo of these casinos? The one-kilometer-long gambling strip, with its well-watered and immaculately manicured lawns, luxury hotels, air-conditioned shopping centers, massage parlors and brothels, has seven casinos, with an eighth under construction. "More than 1,000 Thais cross the border every day," said Wanchai Topan, police chief in Aranyaprathet district of Thailand's Sa Kaew province, just across from Poipet...
The building of the casinos also caused a population boom in the frontier town. According to Poipet's new commune clerk San Seang Hou, appointed by the Ministry of Interior, the town's population has increased to more than 100,000 from 9,244 families in 1998 census.
BTW: Gambling News also carries this story, but has edited out some material including the last paragraph that mentions "the social costs" of gambling.
2 casino moguls 'helped Cambodia pay riot bill' - The Straits Times, March 19, 2003
Gambling kingpins Kok Ahn and Pad Supapa contributed to Monday's payment to hasten the diplomatic normalisation process and revive their business fortunes, the Bangkok Post reported, citing a Thai military intelligence source.
Outcry over casino trucks - The Nation, March 13, 2003
The border with Cambodia is closed--except for trucks carrying materials to build Thai casinos. The transportation of construction materials was temporarily halted for two hours due to concern among Cambodian authorities over the presence of foreign journalists. Cambodian villagers living near the border expressed discontent over the permit granted to the convoy. Many in the border town have been facing a severe food shortage since the closure of the border...
Poipet casinos seek help from Hun Sen - February 1, 2003
Calamity: the borders are still closed during this Chinese New Year.

No Cambodians allowed - Bangkok Post, December 31, 2002
What's going on at the Chong Chom checkpoint in Kap Choeng district: When a request to open the checkpoint was submitted to the government, the reason given as ``cross-border trading''. But the reality is quite different, with gamblers instead of traders using the checkpoint. The nearest town on the Cambodian side of the border _ Samrong _ is miles away on a bumpy road....Cambodian citizens are banned from entering the casino, except those employed as waitresses and cleaners. It is a pretty good article detailing how much things cost and what goes on around the checkpoint. Does anyone have photos of the casinos?
Pailin's casinos - October 2, 2002
From "Irony is News" journalism: Pailin, once the heart of Khmer Rouge territory, is now full of Thai casinos. The troops have been replaced by armies of croupiers in red waistcoats and short black skirts on their way to work at the Caesar International Casino, an aircraft hangar-style monstrosity offering "Disco, Dance, Karaoke, Restaurant, Massage."
Interesting to note that when this article is used in a Canadaian newspaper it has the title: "Cambodia's jungle Klondike thrives" but direct from Reuters, it has the title "Las Vegas overruns Pol Pot's rural idyll in Cambodia."
A past article on Thai casinos in Cambodia is here.
More on Thai casinos in Cambodia - July 26, 2002
From a Sam Rainsy Party press release: Ly Yong Phat and other Thai businessmen have asked the Koh Kong provincial authorities led by Thai-born Governor Yuth Phouthang to chase Cambodian farmers and fishermen from a large area between the Thai border and a Thai-built bridge linking, on Cambodian territory, the commune of Pak Klong and the commune of Dang Tung. Besides, the Thai army is building a road from the Thai border to the city of Sre Ambel, about 200 kilometres eastward.
And an earlier article: SRP oppose land grabs in Pailin and Poipet
Cambodian border casinos - AFP, February 17, 2002
Banned from most forms of gambling in their own country, cashed-up Thais are frittering away tens of millions of dollars every year at gaudy border casinos. After roaring up the highway from Bangkok, they park their luxury German or Japanese sedans in tightly guarded car parks opposite miserable frontier towns like Poipet, in Cambodia...
"Legally speaking we might be in Cambodia, but practically speaking it is in fact Thailand," said one of the casino managers.
Just about everyone milling around the Holiday Palace, the Golden Crown Casino and the Star Vegas is Thai and the only currency accepted is the baht. The 5,000 Cambodian employees are expected to only speak Thai.
The casinos are owned by investors from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia and China. The management task force also counts Americans, Britons, Australians and French -- in all more than a dozen nationalities.
(from Cambodian border casinos, AFP, February 17, 2002)
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