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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - All bets are off at VIP casino

All bets are off at VIP casino

A NOTHER casino in the border town of Bavet has closed, sparking protest from 300 dissatisfied employees, as top officials warned there were more bankruptcies to come.

Chief of Casino Management at the Ministry of Economy and Finance Chrun Theravath confirmed yesterday that he had been informed of the closure of VIP Casino in Bavet City, Svay Rieng province.

“We know the casino is bankrupt, but we will go down to check [for details],” he said.

“I have also got unofficial reports that other casinos will declare bankruptcy soon. At this time, the economic situation is not better and it has resulted in a drop in customers,” he added.

Gambling in Cambodia is restricted to holders of foreign passports.

News of the closure follows protests from employees at the site.

I have also got unofficial reports that other casinos will declare bankruptcy soon. The situation is not better

On Monday, more than 300 workers gathered outside VIP to complain about missed salary payments.
Yesterday, Svay Rieng provincial Police Chief Prach Rim said the situation had simmered down.

“[The company] agreed to pay salaries back to the workers.

So now, the situation is quiet,” he said.

The police chief observed that the town – where up to 14 casinos operate – had seen a drop in custom since the economic crisis.

“It is hard to operate in the casino business. They must to have enough of funds, good management and services. If not, it will [result in] bankruptcy,” he said.

VIP is not the first to close its doors. In September, Bavet’s Winn Casino closed its doors, leaving an estimated 300 workers jobless.

Prach Rim added that local authorities welcomed VIP’s closure, as it would cut down on security concerns, but said he hoped that new management would reopen the site. He added it had seen three different owners since its opening.

Kim Heang, director of Khmer Real Estate Co, also said that the casino had seen many owners and had “many shareholders”. He has been charged with selling Winn Casino, along with two more in Bavet worth between US$3 million to $15 million each.

The Post could not contact VIP Casino officials for comment yesterday.

The bankrupt casino is believed to be Vietnamese-owned.

According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, revenue derived from Cambodia’s 27 casinos decreased between 7 to 8 percent to approximately $17.5 million in 2009, when compared to 2008 revenues.

Despite Bavet’s experience, casino owners in other parts of the country are launching new ventures.

The owners of a half-built $3.5 million Try Pheap Mittapheap casino in Ratanakkiri province opened a temporary gambling centre in order to "test the market" last week.

The operation is located along the border with Vietnam.  However, media reports have suggested that as yet the venue is only operating as a cock-fighting arena in the northern province.

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