Sat, Jun 15, 10:30am by Staff Writer
The number of casino licences issued in Cambodia continues to soar, with the Ministry of Finance revealing another 13 licences had been issued during the first four months of 2019.
Asgam is reporting the new licences lift the nationwide total to a new high of 163, with more than half of those – 91 to be precise – located in Preah Sihanouk province, known as Sihanoukville.
The rapid rate of development in Sihanoukville, primarily relating to new casino resorts funded by Chinese investment, has become a major point of contention in recent years amid concerns over growing violence and widespread pollution.
In March, officials ordered the closure of the Jin Ding Hotel and Casino following multiple complaints that the resort was flushing raw sewage straight into the sea.
First reported in March, Cambodian officials ordered the closure of the casino.
It had recently opened on Koh Rong Samloen Island and was forced to shut from March 22 after failing to follow a range of official guidelines.
The property is said to have ignored development restrictions and promoted illegal online betting games, according to local media reports.
The property is owned by Chinese national Zhou Jianhua via his company 168 Jinding International Entertainment Co Ltd.
“The casino’s owner had the building constructed on the beach too close to the sea and violated some terms and conditions,” a local government spokesman said.
“We ordered [the owner] to completely close it on March 22 in order for his staff to find other jobs.
“We are not closing it immediately – we have instructed him on many occasions but he failed to comply with our directives.”
The closure comes after 77 families filed complaints, which led to a working group inspecting the property.
The group found that the property was illegally built directly on the sandy beach and did not incorporate a proper sewage filtration system.
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Nevertheless, the Deputy Director-General at the Ministry of Finance’s financial industry department, Ros Phearun, told the Khmer Times this week that the growing number of casinos “reflects the increase in tourists, particularly Chinese.”
“We have granted a lot of licences, but there are actually only 51 licences in operation,” he added.
“The rest are now being built, while some have halted operations.”
Phearun said the government was expecting to collect around US$70 million from the gaming industry in 2019, up from US$46 million last year.
The Cambodian government is currently working on a draft gaming bill, the Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling, aimed at refining regulation of the industry.
A Cambodian casino is accused of beating eight Chinese gamblers suspected by casino management of cheating.
Casino.org is reported that media in mainland China and local Cambodian media are reporting that staff at the unnamed casino took the law into their own hands in the western Cambodian town, which has quickly grown into a Chinese casino hub in the space of just a few years.
The eight gamblers – four men and four women – were reportedly separately called into a back room at the casino on April 3, where they were held for up to ten hours and savagely beaten.
The gamblers were told they would only be allowed to leave to go to the hospital once they had signed a document admitting to fraud.
The right gamblers had won amounts ranging from a few thousand dollars to more than $20,000 according to reports.
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