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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Cambodian casinos are booming thanks to billions of dollars from China

The huge investment from China has made Cambodia's Sihanoukville rise rapidly with hotels and casinos, but it is also risky.
sihanoukville cambodia casino

The coastal city of Sihanoukville in southern Cambodia is filled with sounds from the construction site. Chinese characters are hung on the signboards of supermarkets, shops and travel agents.

Chinese investors are injecting money into the real estate and entertainment industry. They want to turn this place from a tourist destination to dusty "bustle" of the United States.

Occupy the market

In the past year, land prices in prime locations have doubled as Chinese investors have rapidly dominated the hotel, casino and real estate markets. The casinos have increased exponentially. Meanwhile, the number of international flights and tourists booming promises potential growth for tourism in Sihanoukville.

"This place is in a boom," said Brad King, chief executive of Cambodian Real Estate Company, with the Nikkei Asian Review.

However, the rapid pace of development and the presence of Chinese casino operators have led some to worry that the city will find it difficult to build a friendly and unmanageable destination image. its potential.

The Cambodian government has signed a memorandum of understanding with China
Jin Bei Casino Hotel, opened earlier this year, is one of Sihanoukville's latest developments aimed at Chinese tourists. Photo: Nikkei Asian Review.
Since 2015, when the Golden Sands Hotel Group of Cambodia introduced Sunshine Bay, the first apartment building with 275 apartments, real estate developers have been quick to start building more skyscrapers projects. According to the CBRE real estate service provider, 6 housing projects including 5,700 apartments have been announced or under construction.

CBRE's mid-year report says demand for condominiums is boosted by investors from mainland China, Singapore and Taiwan. Complex casinos and resort complexes and casinos are flourishing as the number of Chinese visitors grows and the global online gambling market is booming.

Ros Phirun, spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, said there are 16 casinos operating in Sihanoukville and nine other casinos are under construction to be opened in early 2018. "They all come to play gambling. online, "Phirun said of the visitors from mainland China.

In Cambodia, only licensed local casinos are offered online. This usually consists of a dealer or a live dealer player at the casino with a remote participant via the webcam.

An online gambling boom was fueled by a new high-speed Internet cable system installed in March and casino licensing was relatively easy in Cambodia compared to some regional countries, analysts said. . Macau and most other Asian casino markets do not allow online gambling.

"Cambodia is a stable market and licenses are relatively easy compared to the general level in Asia," commented Lorien Pilling, director of the UK based Gambling and Gaming Consultancy Company. .

Two high-end residential towers will open in the next few years, including Blue Bay and the Royal Bay View. Golden Silver Gulf, the super resort is being built by a group of 14 Chinese companies, will also have casinos. The project will spread along 28 km of coastline in Ream National Park, outside the city.

Catch up the border town

Sihanoukville does not have as many casinos as the Cambodian border towns of Thailand and Vietnam but is catching up fast.

"Over the next three years, Sihanoukville will be much larger than Poipet near Thailand and the Bavet city near Vietnam," said Aaron Ghini, general manager of the Queenco Hotel and Casino in Sihanoukville. with the Nikkei.

Real estate in Sihanoukville will explode as China maintains its position as the biggest foreign investor in Cambodia, according to a Chinese official quoted by Xinhua. The country has injected $ 11.8 billion by 2016, equivalent to 34% of the total amount of foreign investment in Cambodia.

The entertainment area within Poipet Resort Casino is in the border city of Poiper, adjacent to Thailand, the area famous for Cambodian casinos. Picture: RGB International.

China continues to be Cambodia's fastest-growing tourism market, with 841,000 visitors in the first nine months of this year and the second largest market after Vietnam. The Cambodian government aims to attract 2 million Chinese visitors per year by 2020.

Since the Cambodian tourism industry has grown a few years ago due to the increasing number of Chinese tourists, the government has sought to promote the Sihanoukville brand as a high-end destination.
campodian casino

With most passengers arriving in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, where the Angkor Wat complex is located, the Cambodian airport operator will be offered incentives to open the route to Sihanoukville Airport.

Khek Norinda, a spokesman for the Cambodian Airways, said the offer included free ground service for a year and reduced passenger service charges.

Chinese tourists accounted for nearly a quarter of 400,000 international arrivals to Sihanoukville in the first nine months of the year, while the number of international and domestic visitors rose 22.4% to 1.5 million. There are 8 flights scheduled to serve passengers to 11 most popular destinations including 3 destinations in China namely Wuxi, Kunming and Macau.

Large companies are looking to make money from this increased number of visitors. InterContinental Hotel, developed by the local Thai Bon Group company, will open in 2020 with 476 rooms. Marriott's 250 rooms will also open in the next few years.

However, many analysts say the city is not ready to receive top international hotels. Urban areas are scattered with rubbish dumps, muddy streets, dirt roads, inexpensive bars and few entertainment services. Cambodian media say hundreds of Chinese citizens have been arrested for illegally gambling and online scams from motels and casinos.

Jonny Ferrari, chief executive of Ferrari Gaming, an online gambling consultancy in Sihanoukville, says the city needs visibility and sophistication to succeed Las Vegas and Macau.

In his view, local governments need to reorganize the gambling industry to eliminate predatory investors who are attracted by the lax regulations and untapped potential here.

Until then, Sihanoukville will continue to lure speculators. For many people involved in this industry, the only thing to do is take advantage of the boom until the local economy "collapses or explodes".
Cambodian casinos are booming thanks to billions of dollars from China
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  • Date : March 29, 2018
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