Savan Vegas, jewel in Laos’ gambling crown

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic, huddled between its larger Indochina neighbours, boasts unparalleled natural scenery and a rich culture almost untouched by the commercial world. It also supports a niche, yet thriving casino market. As in neighbouring nations, the gaming sector is loosely regulated and locals are banned from gambling, so the country’s properties tend to be located in border areas and cater to the tastes of surrounding countries — Thailand, Myanmar, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Rich in natural resources, the economy is driven by mining, hydropower and tourism/gaming. Laos welcomed 4.15 million tourists in 2014, up by 10 percent from the previous year. Thai nationals accounted for 50 percent of tourist arrivals at 2 million, followed by Vietnam, with 1.1 million, according to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism. Despite numerous disputes between the government and private investors, there are new gaming projects being constructed in various areas of the...

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