Cambodia’s Casinos Shared in the Pain of ’09

The country’s casinos saw a dramatic decrease in customers in 2009 as the economic downturn and the border dispute with Thailand kept gamblers away, casinos and government officials said yesterday.

The amount of government revenue derived from the Cambodia’s 25 casinos decreased 8 percent to approximately $17.5 million in 2009, said Ros Phearun, deputy director of the Finance Ministry’s department of finance industry. The percentage is not proportional to revenue or attendance, which dropped by far more, he said.

“Revenue decreasing is due to two major issues, tourism and the border,” he said.

Mey Vann, director of the finance industry department, said only one casino, King’s Crown Casino and Hotel in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet city, closed in 2009 due to the financial constraints.

“It’s because of the economic downturn, as the tourists restrict their spending,” he said.

Kith Thieng, vice president of the Royal Group, which owns Caesar International Hotel and Casino in Bavet city, said that in 2008 as many as 1,000 visitors visited the casino daily but that number has dwindled to 300 people per day in 2009.

“I am looking forward to the next couple of months. If the economy is bad, I will decide whether to lay off staff,” he said.

Phu Kok An, chairman of Golden Crown casinos in Kandal province and Poipet city, said the tensions between Cambodia and Thailand has discouraged Thais from visiting his casino in Poipet.

“Since the border dispute, only 500 visitors per day come to my casino, but in 2008 there were 1,000,” he said.

He has laid off 5 percent of his 2,000 casino employees, he said, adding, “here the casinos are starting to lay off their staff. They lay off their staff, leaving less than 50 percent.”

Revenue in 2009 for Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino has not been released by its owner, NagaCorp, which is publicly traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

NagaCorp in September revealed that net profits at NagaWorld had dropped 54.9 percent to $11.5 million for the first six months of 2009 compared to the same period in 2008.


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