Wednesday, 27 April 2011 15:00Sieam Bunthy
Casino owners along the Cambodia-Thailand border yesterday noted a sharp drop in business since clashes again broke out between the two countries near Oddar Meanchey province.
Chea Kea, owner of the Mongkodpich casino in the border province of Pailin, said that customer traffic had fallen significantly since the fighting began in February and restarted on April 22.
“Since early February I have lost more than $100,000 per month, and visitors to the casino are down 40 percent since the most recent fighting,” he said.
Most of Mongkodpich’s customers are Thai citizens, he said.
Officials at the O’Smach international border gate in Oddar Meanchey said that the area’s two main gambling centres – Royal Hill Casino and O’Smach Resort Casino – also had suffered declines for the same reasons.
“Since Thailand closed their border [at O’Smach] on April 22, there aren’t many customers coming to the casinos because 99 percent of those who come to play are Thai,” said Nguy Cheang, deputy director at the O’Smach gate.
He said he expects business to return to normal once the gate is reopened and the conflict subsides.
Loem Heng, owner of Royal Hill Casino Loem Heng agreed, saying that Thai customers will cross the border once the fighting has stopped.
“It is normal when there is a problem like this,” he said. “We know that when the gate is opened there will be business again.”
He declined to discuss the size of the casino’s loss.
Sources at O’Smach Resort reiterated that operations had slowed since the fighting began.
The casino could close if the conflict grows any worse, said a company official requesting anonymity.
Officials at the Choam and O’Smach border points yesterday confirmed the two gates remained closed since the restart of fighting in April.