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cent of Cambodians still live below or close to the poverty line.


Many remain impoverished and stranded trying to make a life in the new areas they fled to during the Khmer Rouge rule. Many Cambodians who managed to survive this period had migrated to the coast and built new homes there or on the various islands.


Serious redevelopment began in the mid-2000s. When Hun Sen came into power, land previously seized by Khmer Rouge, was sold off. By 2006, it was said some 40,000 Cambodians had been made homeless in Phnom Penh alone. Homes were flattened and hotels were being built along the coast and on islands where villagers had begun to re-start their lives.


It has been likened to a frenzied land grab as politicians and wealthy businessman laid claim to land, cities and even paddy fields, later sold to


foreign investors. Tere was a saying that the rich were eating the country.


In 2006, some 1.5 million tourists arrived in Cambodia and this new cash cow was being milked to the max. Te government changed the designation of the southern islands so they could also be sold and Cambodia set out to challenge Tailand to become a top tourism destination. To achieve this goal, residents were forceably removed. Some jailed or beaten.


In 2007, up to US$2bn in foreign finance entered Cambodia, whilst 150,000 people were facing eviction and 45 per cent of the country’s entire landmass was sold off.


Many said Hun Sen had put the country up for sale. Investors could form 100 per cent foreign- owned companies to buy land and real estate – a unique system no other country has instigated. With no money laundering law in place at that


time, there was a flood of investors building condos, hotels and casinos.


THE GAMBLING MARKET Gambling was prohibited during the Khmer


Rouge dictatorship during the 1970s, although it was legalised again in the 1990s when the first casino licence was granted to Naga World in 1994.


In 1996, the Law on Suppression of Gambling was introduced and several casinos in Phnom Penh, except for Naga World, were closed and it also prohibited almost all forms of gambling for Cambodian residents. Meanwhile, the government allowed the casinos to relocate out to border towns and along the coastal resorts.


At the end of 2019 there were around 133 casinos in operation in Cambodia and with very little strategy to govern or regulate the gaming industry the country became one of fastest


NEWSWIRE / INTERACTIVE / MARKET DATA P89


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