The first casino on the border between Kandal province and Vietnam opened on June 17 in Koh Thom district’s Chrey Thom commune, and the local tycoon behind the project says he hopes to repeat the gambling success of Poipet in a sleepy corner of the rural southeast.
Phu Kok An, operator of the Golden Crown Casino in Poipet and chairman of Anco Brothers Co Ltd, distributors of the 555 cigarette brand, said gamblers flocked from Vietnam for the opening of the second Golden Crown Casino in Chrey Thom.
“The first day it was full of gamblers who enjoyed playing on 60 gambling tables. We have every kind of gambling,” Phu Kok An said Monday.
With $2 million already invested in the casino, Phu Kok An said he plans to invest more money in a 100-room hotel and a taxi station that will take players and patrons from Phnom Penh to the border town.
A deal has also been signed with a Vietnamese company to provide 4 megawatts of electricity for a planned industrial park and a children’s park and zoo, he said.
“The Vietnamese side is much busier than our side, but I have planned and I project this area to be a second Poipet,” he added. “Before Poipet was quiet like [Chrey Thom] today. But now it has become a busy town, and I am willing to project that Chrey Thom will become a trade and business community.”
Though casinos must be located 200 km from Phnom Penh, Phu Kok An said that Chrey Thom was acceptable at 70 km from the capital.
Mey Vann, director of the finance and industry department at the Ministry of Finance, said the government collects around $10 million in tax and fees per year from the country’s 18 licensed casinos.
Chrey Thom’s casino has not yet been approved for a license, but “in principle, that casino is legal,” Mey Vann said, adding that he hoped the gaming business would do for Kandal what the casinos at Bavet have done for Svay Rieng province. “Casinos at the border generate jobs for people,” he said.
Independent economist Kang Chandararot said the country’s casinos did little for the economy and the government treasury but has created crime and other social problems.