Gaming property owner Kang Qiang has placed gold urinals in his Sihanoukville, Cambodia gambling venue while all land-based casinos are shuttered in the country by the coronavirus pandemic, news reports said.
While it is unclear how much gold is used in the urinals, the move is seen as a statement from Kang Qiang. “This city is just starting, there is a lot of potential,” Kang was quoted by Reuters News Agency.
“I love it,” he added. “Sihanoukville gives you a feeling of freedom and no control.”
But his interior upgrade does not boost confidence for everyone on Cambodia’s economic future.
I don’t know what they show – prolificacy,” Sophal Ear, a professor of diplomacy and world affairs at California’s Occidental College, speculated in a statement to Casino.org.
“What does it mean exactly? …. It doesn’t mean they’re made of solid gold. What karat? How much gold? Could be fool’s gold,” Ear added.
“Kang Qiang keeps saying the same thing: Cambodia is like China decades ago, minus the competition,” Ear said. “[It is] a symbol of his confidence in his investment in Cambodia that the Chinese will be returning sooner or later.”
But Ear is not sure how many Chinese gamblers and investors will return to Sihanoukville. “You had the online gaming ban on 1 January 2020, so that pretty much turned Sihanoukville into a ghost town,” Ear explained.
When it comes to casinos being shuttered starting this week in Cambodia, Ear said, “Of course they’re being shuttered. They have to stop the bleeding of cash — that means all variable costs have got to stop: labor, food, even utilities, etc. Live to fight another day.”
About half of the nation’s casinos are found in Sihanoukville. Most significantly, the closing order will impact NagaWorld.
It is the sole casino in the capital city of Phnom Penh. Its parent company, NagaCorp, saw approximately $1.8 billion in revenue during 2019, Reuters said.
Coronavirus Cases Reported
Officially, there were 107 cases of coronavirus in Cambodia as of earlier this week, according to data from the Ministry of Health. Some 21 patients recovered from the virus since January, the ministry claims.
New cases of the potentially fatal coronavirus include a 30-year-old man who worked in an unidentified Cambodian casino and karaoke club located in Banteay Meanchey Province, Reuters reported.
As of 2019, there were approximately 125 casinos in Cambodia, making it a major gaming center for East Asia, Reuters said. Currently, there are approximately 120 casinos still in operation, Inside Asian Gaming said.
This week’s casino closings are another financial blow to Cambodia’s gaming sector. Last year, online gaming was banned.
Visa Restrictions Limit Tourists, Business Trips
Another recent stumbling block for the economy was the decision to restrict visas for visitors from other nations.
Foreign nationals now cannot get visas, provided on arrival, for at least one month, Reuters said. Foreigners must get a visa before traveling to Cambodia.
The government is requiring them to show documents “certifying that he/she has not tested positive” for COVID-19, Reuters adds. They also must show they are signed up for adequate medical insurance.
In nearby Vietnam, Vietnamese gambling properties also have shuttered for 15 days starting this week because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from Vietnam News Agency, a state news service.
Altogether, as of September, there were approximately 40 casinos in Vietnam. Most are closed to Vietnamese residents.