Cambodia PM nixes planned casino next to Buddhist site; Australia firm backs out of Cambodia casino purchase

TAGs: Australia, Cambodia, Cell Aquaculture Ltd, Kirby Garlitos, NagaCorp, Roxy casino

Cambodia PM nixes planned casino next to Buddhist site; Australia firm backs out of Cambodia casino purchaseCambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that his government has no plans to sell or rent the Buddhist Institute in Phnom Penh to casino operator NagaCorp, whose flagship casino shares a boundary with the Buddhist site. Prime Minister Sen sent a letter to Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni, assuring the monarch that NagaCorp’s extension of its NagaWorld property in the country’s capital won’t include selling the iconic Buddhist Institute.

The announcement came a few days after Buddhist monks marched in the capital to protest rumors that the Cambodia’s Ministry of Cults and Religion has leased a parcel of land from the Institute to NagaCorp. Over 200 monks from the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice joined in the protest. The group even attempted to deliver a petition to the Royal Palace, asking King Sihamoni to ensure that the Institute remained intact and not sold to NagaCorp as construction around the site fueled rumors that the gaming operator had purchased the land on which the institute sits.

“The lease of the religion-owned land to NagaWorld casino has not provided any benefits to the religion; instead, it affects the value of the Buddhism and the fame of the nation,” Independent Monk Network for Social Justice Head Venerable But Buntenh told local media during the rally.

To his credit, Cults and Religion Minister Min Khin immediately shot down those rumors, telling a National Assembly Commission that the site won’t be sold or rented “for investment purpose.”

“The Ministry of Cults and Religion has never had any plan to invest or sell the Buddhist Institute since it serves as both a repository of sacred Buddhist texts and a research center for Buddhist studies,” the ministry added in its own statement.

Meanwhile, Sydney-listed company Cell Aquaculture Ltd. has backed out of its plan to acquire the Roxy Casino in Bavet City, Cambodia because the company wasn’t ready for the responsibilities that come with running and operating a casino. Cell Aquaculture initially entered into an agreement to acquire the casino back in March. Since then, the company has struggled to find “competent staff” to manage the property.

“This inability to appoint staff has caused difficulties with Roxy providing monthly reports to the company during the due diligence process, and providing meaningful budgets and 24 month expenditure and working capital estimates,” Cell Aquaculture said in its filing to the Australian Stock Exchange.

The company has come to the view that Roxy is not currently ready for public company life, as it is not able to meet the ongoing reporting requirements of ASX in a timely fashion, the filing added.


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