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Cambodian casino town is still calm despite border reopening

Issued: 27 March 2003

After a seven-week closure following the anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh on January 29, Thai-Cambodia border is open again, but economy in frontier town in Cambodia is unlikely to recover quickly.

Poipet, the frontier town well-known for casinos has lost its vibrant flows of gamblers crossing the border from Thailand, making it also miss its dramatic amount of income accounting for up to US$12 million a week according to a Thai military intelligence source. The town is still haunted with the melancholy after a standstill of border economy. Migrant workers have headed back to family farms as desperate with loss of their normal income.

On Thai border, the situation was hardly better in the town of Aranyaprathet, about 270 kilometers from Bangkok. The normally bustling Rong Kleu Market with its labyrinth of 2,000 stalls was mostly closed for lack of business in the morning before the reopening. The town's losses of income mount to 60 million baht a day, according to a local trade council official. Even on Saturday, the first full day of the opening checkpoints, traffic was light.

Although Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced the breaking of border impasse, he refused Thai nationals permission to enter Cambodia for a purpose of gambling, allowing slow recovery of business along the frontier of the two countries.


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