Anyone who has ever traveled from Bangkok to Siem Reap by road will have made the border crossing at Aranyaprathet on the Thai border and Poipet on the Cambodian. They say first impressions count, well if that were the case, most people would probably turn back at the border and return to the Thai capital.
Hanoi, Vietnam -- (SBWIRE) -- 09/17/2013 -- Anyone who has ever traveled from Bangkok to Siem Reap by road will have made the border crossing at Aranyaprathet on the Thai border and Poipet on the Cambodian. They say first impressions count, well if that were the case, most people would probably turn back at the border and return to the Thai capital.
Poipet is one of the dirtiest, seediest towns in the whole of Southeast Asia. It is astonishing that nothing has ever been done to improve a traveler’s first glimpse of Cambodia. In the dry season it’s a dust bowl of gray. Everything is the same color, the floor, the buildings and the people. It is quite frankly filthy. It looks as though it hasn’t had a penny spent on it in decades. In the wet season, it’s ankle deep in mud as the unsealed roads flood over the small, inadequate footpaths.
Hard, then, to believe that this is the heart of Cambodia’s casino world. Often called their Las Vegas, it is a hive of Casinos, illegal gambling houses and brothels. It is estimated that this one-horse town takes in a £1 Billion annually. Earlier this year the Asian betting syndicates operating here, were named in the European football fixing scandal. Europol who investigated, claimed that £2 million changed hands on hundreds of high profile games, including Champions League matches, and that most of that money was placed in Poipet.
The most common fixing is spot betting, where punters place bets on for example, what minute the first throw-in is awarded. This is seen as the easiest to fix, as you only have to get one player to kick the ball out at a certain time. In Asia’s unregulated gambling scenario, it is estimated that bets as large as £50,000 are often wagered on single such bets.
The rigging is done in advance by agents, who pay players to commit a foul or kick the ball out of play in say the first minute. Then the bets are placed by hundreds of bookies’ runners in Poipet. Bookmakers in Europe have started to refuse to accept such bets, such is the high risk of fixing.
Poipet is a legal gambling town, in a country where most gambling is illegal. It seems that the government are happy to leave it be, as long as it does attract headlines. Maybe that is why they haven’t at least tried to clean the place up a bit. However for every legal casino there are now many seedy illegal gambling houses taking bets on football. Images of Liverpool and Manchester United adorn their windows.
Poipet is not the kind of place you would want to be on your own in at night. It’s a lawless, run-down, frightening looking place at times. Working girls, illegal gambling, spiked drinks and drugs, do not a healthy combination make. For this reason it is mainly only seen by westerners during daylight hours. The border is only open between the hours of 7.30am and 5.00pm.
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