Cambodia casino staff strike over pay at billion-dollar gambling den

13-Jan-2020 Intellasia | AFP | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Thousands of Cambodian workers at a Phnom Penh casino that turns over more than a billion dollars a year continued a strike Friday calling for better pay, in a country where Chinese money has driven a gambling boom.

About 3,000 workers joined the rare walkout in front of the NagaWorld complex in the capital, one of around 100 casinos which have shot up many in the last few years to serve a flood of Chinese customers across the kingdom.

The protesters held banners and cheered as dozens of police officers watched over the protest.

The Hong-Kong registered owner, Nagacorp Ltd, has a 70-year lease on the casino and says it made a profit of $245 million mainly from its Cambodia operations in the first six months of 2019.

The company website boasts it is “one of the world’s most profitable gaming companies” and enjoyed a turnover of $1.4 billion in 2018.

But workers, who earn between $190-300 a month, say the rewards have not trickled down to them.

“We are demanding a pay increase to $500 a month for casino staff and $300 for people who work in the hotel,” trade unionist Chhim Sithar told AFP.

The protesters are also demanding the reinstatement of a union president who was suspended by the company in September after she tried to protect a worker’s rights.

“The company made a huge profit in recent years,” said Sithar, the suspended union official.

Company management could not be reached immediately for comment.

NagaCorp, which has the exclusive licence to operate in Phnom Penh until 2065, is building a third casino in the capital hoping to lasso in more VIP customers from China, who beat a ban on gambling in the mainland by going on overseas junkets.

Cambodia is one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries and its citizens are officially barred from playing in the casinos.

The country has a complex relationship with gambling.

Over 60 have closed in southern Sihanoukville in recent months after Beijing asked its Cambodian ally to shut down online gambling by Chinese punters using the kingdom’s casino’s to bet for networks based in the mainland.

Around 8,000 people have been laid off from their casino jobs in Sihanoukville, tens of thousands of Chinese gamblers have fled while some planned casinos have been left half-finished. billion-dollar-093409701.html


Category: Regional

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