pailin – A new casino is due to open in this former Khmer Rouge stronghold before the end of the month, with hopes that gamblers from Thailand will give the town an economic boost, local authorities said.
Pailin Second Deputy Governor Ieng Vuth said the new gaming venture, the Caesar International Casino, is owned by Meng Sokha, owner of the Sharaton Hotel in Phnom Penh and son of controversial business tycoon Teng Bunma.
The casino is expected to have 14 gaming tables, including blackjack and roulette wheels, as well as a 200-seat restaurant and a night club.
This will be the second casino opening to draw business from Thailand, where gambling is illegal. The first, the Koh Kong International Casino, opened in January in Koh Kong’s Cham Yeam. An agreement between Thailand and Cambodia allows Thais entry without passports or visas.
The opening of the Caesar comes as authorities continue their crackdown on unlicensed gaming houses.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Wednesday that he believes authorities in Pailin and Koh Kong have asked the government for permission to open the casinos.
An economic adviser to the government, Te Duong Tara, said he was unsure whether licenses had been granted. “For this period we have been busy with other things,” he said.
Until now, the government has acknowledged that only two casinos—Naga Resort’s Floating Casino and the Holiday Hotel casino in Phnom Penh—are licensed.
Malaysia-owned Naga Resorts, which initially was given exclusive rights to operate a casino in Cambodia, has disputed Holiday’s claim to be legal.
The Caesar International would be the second casino in the Teng Bunma family. The tycoon opened the Cambodia International Club in the Hotel Inter-Continental earlier this year. Government officials seemed unclear Wednesday whether this casino had been licensed. (Additional reporting by Debra Boyce)
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