July 4, 2011

Is the game up for Poipet’s casinos?


IT’S not just people trading between Cambodia and Thailand who have been affected by the ongoing border dispute over Preah Vihear. The casino business is also suffering.

Chea You Chheang, 32, is the financial manager of Poipet’s Crown Casino. He has worked at the casino for the past 10 years.

“The casino trade so far is okay. But in a few years, if we have more problems with Thailand, the number of customers will drop,” he says.

Chea You Chheang says business has already dropped by about 30 per cent since the border conflict began – which is hardly surprising, consider-ing about 98 per cent of the casino’s customers are Thai.

“It’s the same for all cas-inos,” he says. “The customers are scared. They have changed their direction to Laos or to Myanmar.”

Despite the border conflict, Chea You Chheang says the potential for casinos in Poipet is greater than at the border with Vietnam.

“If we compare business between the Thai-Cambodian border and the Vietnam-Cambodian border, the Thai border is still better for casinos,” he says.

Poipet also draws a larger number of Thai high-rollers than Pailin, just along the Thai border, where the cust-omers are often Thai traders betting with 20-baht notes.

“Here, we have lots of VIP Thai customers,” Chea You Chheang says. “They can bet as much as $1 million.”

Despite that, Chea You Chheang believes the future of Poipet as a gambling town lies outside his control.

“It depends on the government,” he says. “If the government can talk with Thailand, then we’ve got no problem and we can improve.”

But if not, the chips could be down for Poipet’s casinos.

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