Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cambodia to launch $100 million casino complex

Posted: 16 Feb 2010 07:33 AM PST

Kith Meng

By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH Feb 16 (Reuters) - A Cambodian tycoon will launch a $100 million casino near the country's border with Vietnam this month to attract foreign tourists and develop the country's fast-growing entertainment industry.

The Titan King Casino will open its doors on Feb. 26 in Bavet, a town in Svay Rieng province, about 120 km (75 miles) from Phnom Penh, covering 2.5 hectares of land and employing some 6,000 people, its owner, Kith Thieng, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Kith Thieng, whose business interests include hotels, fast food restaurants, a mobile phone operator and stakes in a bank and television station, said he wanted to help Cambodia's entertainment sector rebound after the global economic crisis.

"Most gamblers will be Vietnamese but my goal is also to attract people from other countries," he said. "I want to promote the fact that Cambodia has enough places for entertainment."

Tourism is the impoverished country's second-biggest earner after its agriculture sector.

Cambodia generated revenues of $19 million from its 29 casinos in 2008, according to Finance Ministry data.

That fell to $17 million last year, with the decline attributed to a fall in tourist arrivals and rising border tensions with neighbouring Thailand.

Thais are a vital part of Cambodia's casino industry. Most forms of gambling are forbidden in Thailand, but thousands of Thais regularly visit massive casino complexes located along their shared border.

In a posting on the new casino's website (titankingcasino.com), Kith Thieng said Bavet was fast becoming a regional centre for entertainment "much like Las Vegas and Macau".

Hear Sopheaktra, an assistant to Kith Thieng, said the casino would list on the Cambodian stock market, which was due to open later this year.

NagaCorp, is currently the only casino operator in Cambodia, with a licence to run any number of casinos within 200 km (124 miles) of Phnom Penh until 2065.

The company said last week it expected revenue in 2010 to grow by 30 percent as the global economy recovers, and forecast future growth would be driven by a surge in Chinese visitors.

(Editing by Martin Petty)

No comments: