Cambodian casinos prevent Vietnam invasion; Facebook poker players on trial

TAGs: Cambodia, Entertainment Gaming Asia, Facebook, Indonesia, Vietnam

cambodia-casinos-vietnam-borderHun Sen, the prime minister of Cambodia, told the nation’s parliament on Thursday that the decision to allow the construction of casinos along the border with Vietnam was part of a “secret strategy” to prevent Cambodia’s occasionally combative neighbor from violating Cambodia’s sovereignty. Since 2006, the two nations have been painstakingly demarcating their shared border in a bid to quell territorial disputes left over from the French colonial period. Cambodia has multiple casinos along its borders with Vietnam and Thailand, which have occasionally made headlines in Vietnam due to luckless gamblers falling afoul of local loansharks.

Agence France-Presse reported that Hun Sen gave a five-hour speech to parliamentarians addressing the demarcation issue and angrily denouncing opposition party claims that he was allowing Vietnam to encroach on Cambodia’s borders, saying: “I don’t like casinos, but the biggest goal for giving permission to build casinos is to protect the border. One can remove border markers, but one can’t remove five-story hotels. Don’t be stupid. You force me to talk about it. This should be a secret strategy to protect the nation.” The concept of casinos as border defenses makes one wonder how many other historical conflicts could have been avoided by employing this strategy. Would the French have been better off installing baccarat tables in lieu of pillboxes along the Maginot Line? Would Henry V have bothered attempting to breach Harfleur’s walls had they been lined with slot machines? Warm up the time machine…

Entertainment Gaming Asia Inc. (EGA), which operates the Dreamworld Pailin casino along Cambodia’s border with Thailand and has two more Dreamworld casinos in development, reported Q2 net revenue of $7.6m, up 13% from $6.7m last year. Revenue from gaming operations rose 14% to $5.2m. EGA supplies gaming machines to Cambodia’s NagaWorld casino and to gaming operations in the Philippines as well as supplying chips to casinos in Macau and Australia. Chief accounting officer Andy Tsui told analysts in a post-earnings call that the company has halved its debt since Dec. 2011 to $3.1m.

While Facebook made headlines this week for announcing its initial foray into real-money online gambling, it seems gamblers on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have been enjoying that option for some time. Eleven individuals are on trial in Medan District Court in North Sumatra for allegedly playing poker via Facebook using virtual chips that could later be exchanged for real cash. According to the Jakarta Post, the players assembled at the Supernet internet café in Northern Sumatra, where they purchased virtual chips that could later be cashed out for real money. However, the raid that resulted in the arrests turned up only Rp7m (US$740), suggesting this wasn’t exactly nosebleed stakes. Seven of the accused are players, while the other four are the operators and cashiers; all face sentences of seven months in prison.


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