Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s fourth largest city and a renowned seaside resort, is now known for its casinos. With 80,000 inhabitants, Sihanoukville is one of the most popular cities in Cambodia. It is called here “the new Macau”.
A few figures about the casinos
Sihanoukville was a chic destination attended by the French when Cambodia was still under protectorate. In 2017, the Chinese began to frequent the city and it adapted to their habits. Thus, it is normal to find Chinese items in shops. You will also see menus and cocktail cards in Mandarin both in restaurants and nightclubs.
In 2018, the number of casinos in Cambodia increased to more than 150 (98 in 2017), including 78 in Sihanoukville province alone, which represent a 53% increase. This is much more than in Macau, and almost as much as in Las Vegas. The Cambodian government received $56 million in annual foreign exchange earnings in 2018 from these gambling establishments, which are mainly used by Chinese customers.
A very wealthy clientele
A new establishment emerges every week especially for Chinese customers. As casinos are not allowed in China, they come to play in Cambodia during holidays or weekends. There are over 100 flights a week from a dozen Chinese cities directly to Sihanoukville.
They particularly like that there is no mandatory dress code -and that smoking is allowed inside the casinos. The Chinese prefer to play with real money like US dollars rather than tokens.
The Chinese clientele is nearly exclusive since Cambodians are not allowed in – and Westerners do not visit these places much. Tour operators also offer “packages” with cruises, parties, hotels, meals and casinos.
Adapted hotel complexes
A number of hotel complexes with integrated casinos are being built in Sihanoukville and are mainly visited by Chinese tourists. Before their opening, the casinos are sacred with a Chinese ritual including dragon parades and lacquered pork offerings.
Most of the hotels are luxurious and also offer translation services, swimming pools, spas, restaurants, sports and meeting rooms. The real estate in Cambodia is growing fast. Rentals in the city center have been more expensive than in Paris since the arrival of the Chinese. Many people are taking advantage of this opportunity to invest in a property in Asia.
Many projects under development
With the Chinese craze for casinos and recreational facilities, Sihanoukville is a city where many projects are being developed.
One of the most significant is Wisney World – a $1.06 billion project. It will cover 65 hectares of land and will include a water park, a hotel, a casino, a shopping complex, a nature park, a cultural park and temples. The construction of the nature park is expected to last 4 years while the hotels, casino and resort will require about 30 months more. Besides creating jobs, Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An said at the project’s launch ceremony in June 2018 that the project will attract both local and international tourists.
Sihanoukville is a modern city, which attracts for the quality of its casinos and hotels. It hosts many projects and is in constant evolution.