From Khmer Rouge to roulette

There are some parts of Las Vegas that I wouldn’t recommend to tourists, but we don’t have too many landmines. For an up-and-coming Cambodian casino region, they’re just one of the reminders of a turbulent past. From AFP Google:

From the road one is immediately aware of the “Danger Mine” signs — tiny red squares with the distinctive white skull and cross bones flashing warnings from the surrounding bushland.

Landmines — thousands of them — lie unseen, in some places only metres (yards) from the road.

But the hidden killers are one of the few reminders left of the war that raged a decade ago across this remote hill country in Cambodia’s western-most reaches.

The tanks that were commonplace have since given way to truck convoys rumbling across from Thailand, past casinos and highrise hotels that residents hope signal a rebirth for this former Khmer Rouge stronghold.

These ex-guerrillas, whose misguided dream of a classless agrarian utopia had violently rejected the fruits of capitalism, are now in the business of making money.

On the roads leading to the border, some 30 kilometres (18 miles) away from Pailin town, garish billboards emblazoned with playing cards and roulette wheels suggest riches are waiting for gamblers — mostly Thais flocking to Cambodia for one-day high stakes excursions — at the Diamond Crown and Caesar casinos.

More than a dozen casinos dot the borders with Vietnam and Thailand, raking in an estimated tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars each year and fueling the economies of several hard-scrabble Cambodian cities along the way.

The largest, Poipet in Cambodia’s northwestern corner, has emerged as a key gaming centre and trading hub with Thailand.

Considered by many as a magnet for vice, Poipet is still viewed with envy in this stripped down frontier town of tidy but stunted buildings whose illicit gem and timber trade financed the Khmer Rouge during the communist movement’s last years.

AFP: Ex-Khmer Rouge stronghold bets the pot on casino boom

I wonder if Harrah’s Entertainment knows about the Caesar casino? I’m not sure if Jay Sarno or Caesars World every copyrighted the name Caesar, so it might not matter.

I think this shows just how strong a lure gambling can be, particularly next to prohibitory regimes.

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