Kampot, Cambodia and the Chinese Gambling Boom

Cambodia has an amazing history that tourists want to experience. However, for the last 50 or 60 years, Cambodia has endured civil unrest and underdevelopment. That appears to be changing. There has been an influx of gamblers into the area, especially from China. The country welcomes economic investment. But, many Cambodians worry the country will ignore its cultural treasures in the rush to offer new gaming casinos.


Kampot cambodiaKampot, which is in the mountains of Cambodia, has been a retreat of the wealthy for more than 150 years. Its lush, cool climate is a stark contrast to the heat and humidity present for much of the year. During the time Cambodia was a French colony, Kampot was a meeting place for the colonial rulers. They constructed a small village with a beautiful hotel. The civil war and genocide of the 1970s ruined the hotel. There were several battles all around the area.

However, earlier this year, the owners remodeled and reopened the hotel. The villagers in the area rejoiced. The building is a luxury hotel that allows casino gaming. But, there are some villagers who worry about the hotel reopening. They don’t want their beautiful and peaceful village ruined by too many tourists, many of them luxury gamblers from China.

Cambodia and Gambling Tourism

Cambodia has welcomed Chinese tourism with open arms, especially when it brings in gambling revenue. The new resort in Kampot, which sits on 44,000 acres, has areas for relaxation and spa treatments. It also has online and on-site gaming. Poker rooms, slot machines, and gaming tables are also available.

Casino licenses are very easy to obtain in Cambodia. This allows for investment in the country. But, it also means that the explosion of gambling has risen unchecked. Entire areas within the country have been remade into areas for gambling and gambling tourists.

Cambodia has become a mecca for Chinese gamblers attracted by free junkets, as well as a low cost of living. Many Chinese gambling tourists can easily afford to rent apartments as well. They can come to Cambodia for the weekend, gamble, and then leave. This creates a problem, however, for the Cambodian locals.

The Problem with Tourist Gambling In Cambodia

Kampot residents do not want to see their beautiful little town turn into another Sihanoukville. This has both good and bad connotations. Sihanoukville was as a town that had fishing boats, beach tourists, and naturalists who liked to backpack. A few years ago, a casino company built a casino there. Soon after, the Chinese tourists arrived because the town was on a major trade route in between Cambodia and China.

At first, the Cambodians in the area rejoiced because the Chinese brought an influx of money and investment. That meant more money and jobs. However, now the problem is the streets have been made over into a little piece of China. There are Chinese supermarkets, condos, and casinos. The development has dumped sewage onto the beautiful beaches. Streets in the main square have been torn up for redevelopment. And, ongoing construction flooded the main market for days. Property prices in the area have also skyrocketed. This is no big deal for Chinese gambling tourists, but Cambodians cannot afford the price increases.

The important part, according to the researchers, is to balance the influx of new money and investments. Developers must consider the people who live in the area. They must also consider the natural beauty that attracts the tourists in the first place. If places become overcrowded with filth and tourists, no one will want to visit or gamble.

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Jean Carter is from Oakland, California and studied jewelry design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, California. After graduation, and pining for a warmer climate, Jean relocated to the Tule Springs suburb of Las Vegas, where she owns and operates her own online jewelry boutique incorporating traditional native American styles with her own unique designs. A true fan of the sophistication and glamor of Las Vegas casino life, Jean is also a freelance blogger specializing in all things suave and fashionable surrounding the casino lifestyle.