Cambodia’s Casino Boom to Bust Tale

The party is finally over in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The quiet coastal resort town quickly exploded into a Chinese gambling mecca, became rife with crime, and finally had to face the music. After a series of overdevelopment, disasters, and crime ripped through Sihanoukville, the Cambodian government, with China’s assistance, have begun to shut down the entire casino industry.

Sihanoukville before the casino boom was just a watering hole for wayward western backpackers. Cheap drinks on a beach drew a large number of youths looking for affordable adventure. One documentary producer recalls the scene before the boom.

Director and producer Robert Lieberman’s impression of Sihanoukville was slightly less than flattering: “The city felt rather dumpy and the waterfront was a line of shabby honky-tonk bars filled with backpackers and college age white kids drinking,” he said.

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