The Chinese-owned Goddess of Liberty Hotel & Casino opened late last month in Sihanoukville to tap into the city’s rising business volume and influx of foreign tourists – especially those from China.
A $100 million investment, the complex’s opening comes around a month after the government announced a blanket ban on online gambling.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection Men Sam An presided over the opening ceremony.
She said the new complex reflects the rising number of foreign tourists into the coastal Preah Sihanouk province, where high buildings such as condominiums, apartments and supermarkets are mushrooming.
“The presence of the Goddess of Liberty Hotel & Casino emphasises strong confidence from Chinese and foreign investors in our country which has sound economic growth and political stability.
“The official opening of the [complex] is a wonderful move. I support their investment in Preah Sihanouk province as it has a very strategic and beautiful location which comprises an international deep-sea port, many beautiful islands and is also one of Cambodia’s commercial areas,” she said.
Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun said the province has attracted a lot of foreign investment over the last few years – especially from the Chinese.
He said the province stood at number one in terms of job creation and raising the people’s incomes, with most of its investment coming from the service, tourism, industry, trade and casino sectors.
Last year, the province welcomed some two million tourists, Chamroeun said. In June, commercial and service industry establishments in the province numbered 922, of which 98 were hotels, 262 guesthouses, 340 restaurants, 26 bungalows, 39 KTVs, nine discotheques and 62 massage parlours.
The construction sector, he said, has seen remarkable growth. Between 2007 and July this year, 819 projects were approved in the province, of which 218 were between five and 42 storeys tall.
Ros Phearun, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Department of Financial Industry, said the ministry had granted licences to some 163 casinos by the end of April – up from 150 at the end of last year. Of the 163, some 91 are based in Preah Sihanouk province.
“Though you can see that we have granted a lot of licences, there are only about 51 casinos in operation, with others suspending construction. The rise in casinos also reflects the increase in the number of tourists – especially the Chinese,” he said.
Phearun said the government collected about $46 million from the gaming industry last year and is expected to collect $70 million this year.