Mekong Eye

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In Laos’ economic zone, a casino and illicit trade beckon in ‘lawless playground’

Critics say the zone has instead become a mecca of gambling, prostitution and illicit trade, raising questions about the spillover effects of China’s growing economic clout beyond its borders.

By Jonathan Kaiman

Laos, September 15, 2015

LA Times

The Kings Romans Casino is an island of extravagance in the Laotian jungle, its corrugated green domes arching high above the treetops.

Inside, hundreds of stone-faced gamblers hunch over baccarat tables, betting thousands of dollars a hand in heavy silence. Out back, a parking lot full of Rolls-Royce limousines adjoins dusty construction yards and banana plantations, with high, forested peaks beyond.

“What do you come for?” a Kings Romans chauffeur said as he shuttled a visitor from the casino to a nearby tourist market. “You like to gamble? You like girls? You can find all sorts of girls here: Chinese, Burmese, Lao, Thai. Here, you can get whatever you want, as long as you have the money.”

 

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