Fresh diplomatic tension between Cambodia and Thailand could create problems for the casinos in the Cambodian border town of Poipet.
During a previous row between the two countries in November, cross-border trade was disrupted and the number of gamblers travelling from Thailand into Poipet fell sharply according to a report at the time in the Bangkok Post.
In the latest incident this week, Cambodia said it had arrested a Thai ruling party politician and six others whom it accused of trespassing in a disputed border area. A Cambodian government spokesman said the seven would be charged with illegally entering Cambodian territory.
Thai Democrat Party lawmaker Panich Vikitsreth was detained along with a group of journalists and members of the royalist ‘Yellow Shirt’ movement while inspecting contested territory from Thailand’s eastern Sa Kaeo province. Poipet is just over the border in Cambodia. The town principally caters to Thai gamblers who cannot legally engage in casino gambling in their own country.
Relations between the two countries have been strained following a series of deadly border clashes in July 2008 over land surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear temple after it was granted UN World Heritage status. Thailand was outraged when Cambodia hired ousted former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra – a hero to many of Thailand’s opposition ‘Red Shirts’ – as an economic adviser in November 2009.