The management of the Queenco Casino and Hotel in Cambodia is looking to poker as a way to raise the international profile of the loss-making property.
The casino last week hosted its first ever event of the Asia Poker Tour (APT), a professional poker competition. The tournament brought a field of 112 international players to compete in the main event.
“We agreed with the APT officials that Queenco would host at least two more tour events in 2015 alone, and then each year after,” Queenco’s chief operations officer Meni Akunis told the Phnom Penh Post. “The decision to host the APT event was firstly to promote Sihanoukville as a future gaming destination,” he added.
The APT made its initial foray into Cambodia in 2012, with an event at the Las Vegas Sun casino in Bavet, close to the border with Vietnam.
Israeli casino developer Queenco Leisure International Ltd owns Queenco, located in Sihanoukville, a coastal area in south-west Cambodia. The company also controls gaming properties in Greece and Serbia.
Queenco casino hotel’s losses amounted to EUR1.5 million (US$2.0 million) by the end of 2013. “There are substantial doubts as to the ability of the project in Cambodia to continue its operations,” the parent company wrote in its 2013 report.
Mr Akunis told the Phnom Penh Post he is hopeful that as the Sihanoukville International Airport starts welcoming international flights, the tables will turn. The infrastructure welcomed its first such flight last week, coming from South Korea. Cambodians by law are not allowed to gamble at home.
The Phnom Penh Post reported that Cambodia is Asia’s most crowded gaming jurisdiction, with 56 casino operators, which operate 7,660 slot machines and 2,568 gaming tables nationwide.
The Cambodian government is in the process of amending its gaming laws in a bid to draw major casino operators and reorganise the industry.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China