State media in Laos have announced gambling will be ending in the former casino enclave of Boten on the Chinese border due to concerns over crime, it was said today.
The Vientiane Times reported: “There has been speculation over criminal activity in the gambling town, which forced the government to close the casino.”
Without saying when the business was shut, the report confirmed Laos plans to take greater control of security at the site and strip the Boten management of some powers, reclassifying the area as a “special economic zone”.
As highlighted in a report by AsiaOne, Boten has become a bit of a gambling hub over the past few years, with the casino and a number hotels springing up to cater exclusively for its Chinese clientele.
However, according to the report by Vientiane Times, the government in Laos decided to act when the project’s developer began looking into selling the venture to another Chinese investor.
Instead of new investors operating a casino in the area, it will develop the area into “a tourism destination,” the report said, adding: “The government will not allow any more special economic zones to contain casinos, after finding such operations created serious problems for Laos, especially in regard to security.”
Local casino in Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone – which is on the border between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand – has no need to worry, the government said, as the decision will not apply to it. Nevertheless, China’s widespread presence in Laos continues to raised increasing local concern despite needing such foreign investment.