Poipet fire rips through Grand Diamond City Hotel

A huge Poipet fire, as witnessed by the DK team ha slipped through the Grand Diamond City Hotel in Poipet killing at least 19 people, as well as leaving the building close to collapse.

Pointe Fire – What do we know so far?

With regards to the fire itself, we actually know relatively little so far, although the small parts that we do know are harrowing. The fir allegedly started at 11.30 pm last night while at least 400 people were one the hotel.

Due to electrical failure many people were stuck in their rooms, elevators did not work and some people resorted to jumping out of the windows of the hotel. We can also be fairly sure that the death toll will rise, with at least 30 people still missing and fire crews unable to get through the smoke to bread down hotel doors.

Poipet Fire

The Casinos of the Thai-Cambodian Border

The Poipet fire has also highlighted the showy world of the casinos that now litter the border of Cambodia and Thailand, with the Poipet-Aranyaprathet  crossing being the most important for trade, tourism and of course the aforementioned gambling industry.

Prior to the rise of the Khmer Rouge it was by far the most important trading area, a trade which ground to a halt with the establishment of Democratic Kampuchea. 

To read about the Vietnamese – Cambodia War click here.

Ironically it was the fall of the Khmer Rouge that again increased trade, with money for the now rebel KR flowing in largely through the Thai borders, which also included Pailin and home of the Pol Pot and Ta Mok’s last stronghold Anlong Veng.

Poipet Fire

To read about the last Khmer Rouge leader click here.

The illegality of gambling in Cambodia 

Gambling was of course illegal during not only the time of Democratic Kampuchea, but also the Peoples Republic of Kampuchea. Things then became grey during the transition to a market economy, before being outlawed entirely by the Kingdom of Cambodia in 1996.

To read about the Peoples Republic Kampuchea click here.

To read about the State of Cambodia click here

Things though started to change when NagaWorld initially launched a boat in the Mekong for Chinese gamblers, which subsequently turned into a boom industry. NagaWorld are now not only an institution in Phnom Penh, but Sihanoukville is filled with Casinos, as are the main cities on the Thai border.

The kicker though is that technically at least Cambodians cannot gamble in them, with Sihanoukville set up entirely for the Chinese market and those on the Thai border not only having Thai nationals as staff, but also pricing everything in Baht.

A $200 billion industry

The Poipet fire though will likely bring scrutiny on what is currently an industry estimated at being worth $200 million a year to the Kingdom, Covid notwithstanding. This has led to allegations of a lack of oversight within the industry, although the government have recently brought in laws that technical at least make it harder to obtain gambling licenses. 

This though will be of scant importance to those who have already, or will have suffered from loses related to the Poipet fire. It might though at least raise enough interest that not only the morality of the gambling, but just how safe and regular the very buildings are is at least spoken about. 

Although exactly what will happen and how quickly will depend on when the most pressing issues related to the Poipet fire are dealt with, namely treating those injured during the disaster and finding and identifying the 30 people still officially missing and working out exactly how such a disaster could have occurred in 2022. 

To read about Dark Tourism in Cambodia click here