The boat that houses the Naga Floating Casino is for sale, but nobody seems sure by whom or exactly why.
A Singapore law firm, Dixon Ng & Co, placed a full-page advertisement in The Cambodia Daily Monday, offering the vessel “Singapore Heritage”—described as a floating casino—for sale.
The Naga, berthed next to the Hotel Cambodiana, is the only floating casino in Phnom Penh. It is operated by Ariston Sdn Bhd, based in Kuala Lumpur.
Ariston spokeswoman Jane Martin said Monday that Ariston officials are not concerned about the proposed sale, as work has begun on the new Nexus Naga Hotel near the Buddhist Institute.
“We’ll be moving into the Nexus next year, so if the owner wants to sell [the boat], they can,” she said. “The ad has nothing to do with us.” She said she did not know who owns the boat.
Ariston says the new complex will feature a 750-room five-star hotel, a nightclub, a shopping arcade, restaurants, a ballroom and fitness center.
Published reports last year said the $100 million complex will include 40 gambling “modules” or areas. City officials have said Ariston is welcome to build a hotel, but not a casino.
The ad says the owner wants to sell the boat “as is, where is,” and notes that the owner “assumes no liability” for any physical or property damage suffered by anybody aboard the boat.
“The charterers of the vessel and/or operators of the floating casino are solely liable for this,” the ad states. It also says the casino operators are responsible for any pollution, costs or other expenses connected with the boat.
In February, the city threatened to evict the boat from its choice riverfront location, saying Ariston owed nearly $400,000 in docking fees and rent for its parking lot.
Ariston paid in May, days before the city’s final deadline.
City officials have made it clear they do not want any casino, floating or otherwise, in the city. They were forced to accept the Naga when Ariston won a court battle, citing its signed agreement for a casino with the government dating back to 1994.
“This is very complex,” said Than Sina, first deputy governor of Phnom Penh. “The Council of Ministers is handling it directly.”
Council of Ministers spokesmen couldn’t be reached for comment Monday. Sok An, minister of the Council of Ministers, said he was too busy to comment.
(Additional reporting by Brian Calvert)