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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Stakes too high

Stakes too high

All bets are off at Winn Casino in Svay Rieng province after its bankruptcy was announced to provincial police authorities, leaving 300 workers jobless.

Officials said Winn was the first casino casualty in the border town of Bavet, after the global economic crisis led to a decline in visiting gamblers.

With some 14 casinos in operation in the town, which lies close to the Vietnamese border, Winn was shuttered due to a drop in custom, according to Svay Rieng provincial police chief Prach Rim.

Laid-off employees were promised compensation from the owner as mandated by labour laws, he said.

Gambling in Cambodia is restricted to holders of foreign passports.

“We have deployed police officials to keep guard at the casino, but so far there has been no information regarding a protest from employees,” he said.

“The local authorities welcome the casino’s closing because it will cut down on security complaints, but we are not happy that hundreds of Cambodian people have lost their jobs.”

Khmer Real Estate Co has been charged with selling Winn Casino, along with two more in Bavet, the firm’s marketing manager Kim Heang said.
He declined to name the other two enterprises up for sale.
The three casinos were worth between US$3 million and $20 million each and ranged in size from 20 to 60 gambling tables and 22 to 170 rooms in attached hotels, he said.
Chrun Theravath, chief of casino management at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said he was aware of the closure of Winn Casino, but that the company had not officially declared bankruptcy.
“I know that the casino has shut down, but so far, there is no written official letter to inform the ministry,” he said.
He said that the casino – which began business in early 2010 under ownership of an unnamed Vietnamese-Canadian national – was likely built with the intention of renting or selling the property, but was unable to find a buyer.
Another Ministry of Economy and Finance official confirmed that the business had shut down, and said profits at casinos near Thailand in Poipet and Bavet on the Vietnam border had slumped in recent months.
Some 27 casinos have licences for operations in Cambodia, but tax revenue from the sector declined US$17.5 million from 2008 to 2009, representing a 7 percent or 8 percent drop overall, said Ros Phearun, deputy director of the finance industry department at the Ministry.
The Post was unable to contact Winn Casino officials Tuesday.



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