Sihanoukville transforms into “casino city” with Chinese help

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Cambodia’s southern beach town of Sihanoukville is slowly transforming into a new regional gambling hub that could even resemble Macao, observers say. Chinese investors are fueling a casino construction boom that additionally has triggered the development of a number of hotels and condo towers, and the town’s character of being a sleepy backpacker beach retreat is quickly  changing into that of a busy gambling tourism destination, with prices rising accordingly.

Over the past years, Cambodia has been betting on the gambling industry as a source of foreign currency, and meanwhile the country has 16 operational casinos, and nine more are expected to open in 2018.

Sihanoukville, which has Cambodia’s only deep-water port, saw a steady trickle of Chinese money into its casinos which has changed the city’s skyline and population ratio, It is estimated that more than 10,000 Chinese are already living there and driving housing prices and rents up. Some even speak of a second Macao which Sihanoukville could become in a few years.

Sihanoukville’s casino market is also starting to rival that of Poipet and Bavet, which cater to customers who stream across the border from Thailand and Vietnam, respectively.

Aaron Ghini, general manager of Sihanoukville’s Queenco Hotel and Casino, said “in three years, Sihanoukville is going to be bigger – much bigger” than Cambodia’s other casino markets, except the capital Phnom Penh, where NagaWorld, the country’s only truly resort-style gaming venue, leads the market.

The influx of Chinese money is also boosting an expanding Sihanoukville’s Special Economic Zone, where 90 per cent of the 110 companies are Chinese, enjoying tax-free imports and exports and corporate tax holidays.

China is also due to build a four-lane highway to Phnom Penh, the international airport in Sihanoukville is being expanded – some 70 per cent of international flights are already to Chinese destinations – and improved rail links are eventually planned under China’s Belt and Road programme.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cambodia’s southern beach town of Sihanoukville is slowly transforming into a new regional gambling hub that could even resemble Macao, observers say. Chinese investors are fueling a casino construction boom that additionally has triggered the development of a number of hotels and condo towers, and the town’s character of being a sleepy backpacker beach retreat is quickly  changing into that of a busy gambling tourism destination, with prices rising accordingly.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Cambodia’s southern beach town of Sihanoukville is slowly transforming into a new regional gambling hub that could even resemble Macao, observers say. Chinese investors are fueling a casino construction boom that additionally has triggered the development of a number of hotels and condo towers, and the town’s character of being a sleepy backpacker beach retreat is quickly  changing into that of a busy gambling tourism destination, with prices rising accordingly.

Over the past years, Cambodia has been betting on the gambling industry as a source of foreign currency, and meanwhile the country has 16 operational casinos, and nine more are expected to open in 2018.

Sihanoukville, which has Cambodia’s only deep-water port, saw a steady trickle of Chinese money into its casinos which has changed the city’s skyline and population ratio, It is estimated that more than 10,000 Chinese are already living there and driving housing prices and rents up. Some even speak of a second Macao which Sihanoukville could become in a few years.

Sihanoukville’s casino market is also starting to rival that of Poipet and Bavet, which cater to customers who stream across the border from Thailand and Vietnam, respectively.

Aaron Ghini, general manager of Sihanoukville’s Queenco Hotel and Casino, said “in three years, Sihanoukville is going to be bigger – much bigger” than Cambodia’s other casino markets, except the capital Phnom Penh, where NagaWorld, the country’s only truly resort-style gaming venue, leads the market.

The influx of Chinese money is also boosting an expanding Sihanoukville’s Special Economic Zone, where 90 per cent of the 110 companies are Chinese, enjoying tax-free imports and exports and corporate tax holidays.

China is also due to build a four-lane highway to Phnom Penh, the international airport in Sihanoukville is being expanded – some 70 per cent of international flights are already to Chinese destinations – and improved rail links are eventually planned under China’s Belt and Road programme.

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