Cambodian casino supporters block Thai activist’s media stunt


poipet-online-gambling-princess168-closedA muckraking Thai nationalist was prevented from inspecting a Cambodian border casino by local residents and merchants who claimed he was bad for business.

Last week, activist Veera Somkwamkid accused Thailand’s government of allowing a casino to be built inside a national park near the Cambodian border. Though Thailand’s parks department insisted that the casino was clearly in Cambodia, the activist invited Thai media to accompany him on an inspection of the casino on Wednesday.

But Veera was forced to cancel his visit after finding his path blocked by over 100 villagers and merchants in Buriram’s Ban Kruat district. The locals told Thai media that the casino, which will operate under the Sai Taku brand when it opens on April 7, will be good for the local economy due to its ability to attract Thai tourists, who lack access to legal casinos in Thailand.

Veera later posted a message to his Facebook page questioning whether the protesters were truly motivated to act out of their own self-interest, or whether they’d been press-ganged by the authorities into keeping him away.

Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who had previously warned Veera that the government wouldn’t come to his aid if he was detained by Cambodian authorities, said the casino question was much ado about nothing, as “people in the area know the reality.”

Meanwhile, a gambling operation in the Cambodian border town of Poipet has been closed by local authorities under as yet unexplained circumstances. This weekend, provincial police shut down Princess168, a venue offering sports betting, online gambling and VIP gaming tables, although no one has gone public regarding what the venue’s operators may have done to warrant the padlocking.

Princess168 was affiliated with the nearby Crown Casino, whose head of security told the Phnom Penh Post he had no explanation for the closure. Local police referred inquiries to the provincial prosecutor, who has yet to publicly state what laws or regulations may have been violated.

Cambodia allows its casino licensees to offer online gambling services provided they don’t accept action from local residents, although the government is reportedly planning to impose tighter control over its online operators, including restrictions on the types of venues allowed to host online gambling operations.

The domain is no longer accessible, but the site did post a promotional video (viewable below) to YouTube a few years ago demonstrating its gambling wares.