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Chinese in Cambodia panicking after gambling den raids
Friday, March 4, 2016 : CHINESE STAMPEDE STYMIES CAMBODIAN LAND CASINO OPERATORS
Chinese in Cambodia panicked following a raid on a villa in Sihanoukville.
Actions by Cambodian, Interpol and Chinese enforcement agencies in Sihanoukville, Cambodia late last year continue to impact the local mainly casino gambling economy, reports the Phnom Penh Post this week.
The enforcement action resulted in the arrest of 168 Chinese individuals in a raid on a local residential compound, and was reportedly targeted on breaking up a "transnational telecom extortion scheme." However, the raid also spooked the local Chinese population, 90 percent of which left the area fearing a wider Chinese corruption purge.
In addition, it has allegedly killed off potential business deals as investors backed away from negotiations, fearing a wider range of enforcement activity.
Many of those who were arrested or who subsequently decamped were employed by land casinos in the area which also offer live dealer gambling via the internet, and this, along with waning Chinese tourism and gambling, has had a negative impact on the Sihanoukville economy, the newspaper reports, illustrating the point with interviews with local casino and hotel operators.
Some of the interviewees said that their business had dropped by between 60 and 80 percent in the wake of the raid. One casino operator told the newspaper that over 90 percent of the 5,000 Chinese previously living in Sihanoukville had fled the city, with many relocating to the Philippines casino industry.
Despite the lack of any further enforcement activity, those who departed had not returned to the area, creating skills shortages for the casinos, the operator added....and investors continue to be wary.
“We’re still trying to attract Chinese online casino investors to come,” the operator said. “They will only come back if the government advertises that it allows online casinos.”
That possibility is unlikely, according to a spokesman for the Cambodian government's Economy and Finance Ministry, who said it was not his organisation's responsibility to promote investment in online casinos, especially in view of the legal grey area where they operated.
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