Around 30 casinos in Sihanoukville have either closed their doors completely or suspended all staff in 2020 as COVID-19 and the impact of Cambodia’s online gaming ban take effect.
The figures, reported by The Khmer Times, were revealed by a labour ministry official, who also stated that another 33 casinos have temporarily suspended staff.
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in August last year that the government would stop issuing online gaming licenses and would not renew any current licenses when they expired – a directive that struck right at the heart of Sihanoukville casino operators due to the majority hosting online gaming servers on property.
The ability to host such services in land-based casinos had led to an explosion in new casino developments across the country in recent years, and particularly in Sihanoukville where the number of casinos grew from just three to more than 80 in the space of three years. It was estimated that as many as 300,000 Chinese online gaming workers were operating in Cambodia at the industry’s peak.
This latest report of casino closures comes after Hong Kong-listed Century Entertainment International Holdings, formerly known as Amax International Holdings, recently revealed plans to relocate gaming tables under its operations from their current home in Sihanoukville to a hotel in Dara Sakor – a controversial Chinese-backed investment zone covering 360 square kilometers on the Cambodian coastline.