Pailin Casino to Open in July

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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