border review | 22 March 2012

Laos closes Casino in Golden Boten City

Last May, following stories about Chinese gamblers held hostage at Golden Boten City, the PRC withdrew its support for the Chinese-run Casino exclave in northern Laos. Yesterday, the Lao government has definitely pulled the plug. France24 reports:

Laos is ending gambling in the former casino enclave of Boten on the Chinese border because of worries about crime, state media said Wednesday.
“There has been speculation over criminal activity in the gambling town, which forced the government to close the casino,” the Vientiane Times reported, without saying when the business was shut.

Donald Frazier (Forbes) was quick to note that the planned $3.8 billion casino complex in Cambodia will be more than happy to accommodate the homeless gamblers. Interestingly, however, the other Chinese-run Casino exclave in Laos, the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone on the Mekong, seems not to be affected by the closure of Golden Boten, according to Bikya Masr. The decision to close Golden Boten appears to have been taken after careful consideration. Bangkok Post cites the Vientiane Times:

The Laos government decided to act when the project’s developer began looking into selling the venture to another Chinese investor, the Vientiane Times said.
The new investors will not operate a casino in the area, the report said, but will instead develop the area into “a tourism destination,” it said.

The most interesting question is, of course, who is the new investor?