Chinese still fear Sihanoukville casino area, says Rathanak Sambath

Four months after police arrested and extradited 168 Chinese nationals in Sihanoukville in October 2015, the city’s business community says it is still feeling the impact, as losses continue to rack up without Chinese presence, local media reports.

The owner of Golden Royal Hotel and Casino, Rathanak Sambath was recently quoted by The Phnom Peh Post, saying his hotel occupancy rate had plummeted “maybe 60 to 80 percent” after thousands of Chinese expats left the city in November 2015.

“After the Chinese left, our business went down a lot, maybe 60 to 80 per cent,” he said. “We’ve faced losses, though we’re still running.”

On October 31, 2015, Cambodian immigration police working with Chinese Interpol agents raided a villa and a guesthouse in Sihanoukville, busting a ring that was using an internet-based telephone system to extort money from victims back in China.

Local media reported that hotel and casino operators said they suffered huge losses after Chinese investors, workers and tourists left the coastal city en masse, with many of those arrested in the Cambodian raids working in casinos in Sihanoukville.

Around half of those arrested in the raid were employed in Sambath’s casino, although they were accused of crimes that occurred off premises.

Sambath says more than 90 percent of the estimated 5,000 Chinese living in Sihanoukville fled the city after the raid.