Gamblers risk illegal crossing to get to Cambodia casinos

Hundreds of Vietnamese gamblers trying to get to casinos in Cambodia are testing tightened security at two border gates in Long An Province, and a crackdown at Binh Hiep Border Gate has opened a market for gangs facilitating illegal crossings or bribing guards.

"For just VND250,000, I'll lead you to the other side and bring you back when you are finished," said Rua, a seasoned crossing guide.

Rua takes customers on his old motorbike to near the Binh Hiep Border Gate before turning right onto a small pathway, stopping at a house where he hands over some money. "It's the border guard, don't say anything," he said.

He gives more money to border guards along the way until crossing into Cambodia without papers.

The casinos in Cambodia look almost deserted, but there are hundreds of people gambling inside, with most coming at around 12pm noon and returning at 5pm.


A casino in Cambodia.

At My Quy Tay Border Gate, the peak crossing time for hundreds of people in the south, including HCM City, Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Tien Giang provinces, is 12pm to 2pm.

Officials at My Quy Tay Checkpoint said the number of people making the crossing dropped from 1,500 to 500 a day after Long An authorities began intercepting gamblers trying to reach casinos across the border in Cambodia in late 2014.

Seven checkpoints were established to turn back would-be gamblers and more closely monitor those crossing, with some 2,000 people turned back for insufficient documents.

Customs officials said 80 percent of those wanting to cross were women, aged from 18 to 50. Their papers said they were engaging in tourism, though there is nothing near the border but wasteland and the casinos.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently approved a a casino project on Phu Quoc Island in southern Vietnam.

The casino is part of a masterplan to develop Phu Quoc as a special economic zone. One of the requirements is that investors cater specifically to foreign customers. It is not clear whether Vietnamese will be allowed to use the casinos.


Cambodia casinos, vietnamese gamblers