The Winner’s Club of Sihanoukville targets the local market [video]

The recently opened Winner’s Club in Sihanoukville seeks to tap into the local expat market and offer a more low-key form of entertainment than the city’s glitzier casinos.

In this week’s Face-to-Face, the owner Gary Tam tells us about his latest venture and updates us on developments in Cambodia’s coastal casino town.

AGBrieve 0:03 Is tourist attendance increasing in Cambodia?

Gary Tham 0:32 Cambodia was the first in Asia to open its doors, so the number of tourists is climbing again, which is good news. As far as the gaming industry is concerned, it’s not very pleasant right now because people have been locked up for a long time and it takes time for people to get used to the way of life again. People are looking for vacation rather than entertainment at the moment.

AGBrieve 1:29 Sihanoukville was a great destination for Chinese players and tourists. How is the city without them?

Gary Tham 1:42 There are still Chinese tourists around, and they still contribute a fairly large percentage of the city’s overall revenue. But China still has a COVID outbreak right now, so bringing people from China and bringing them back to China has been really, really difficult. Some say plane tickets cost as much as $5,000 to $10,000.

AGBrief 2:27 We learn that frequent Chinese players in Macau are being denied visas. Do you hear something like that in Cambodia?

Gary Tham 2:42 Not so much that they’re denied, but more that they can’t go out because of the lockdown.

AGBrief 2:54 So if you went to a casino in Sihanoukville, what would it be like?

Gary Tham 3:00 PM Not as crowded as it used to be, but the floors are about 50% occupied. But the crowds are different. The majority of the crowds now are the middle income groups and the low income groups, and they have a good mix of Indonesians, Malaysians, Koreans, with fewer Chinese.

AGBrief 4:35 Please tell us about your new business.

Gary Tham 4:42 I own a small casino myself now, known as Winner’s Club. The target segment is low and middle income groups. People come to gamble with a group of friends rather than come to gamble their fortune. People come for free beers, free food. And they just play for fun. When the time is up, they go back to work or go home and sleep. We have three tables and 18 machines.

AGBrief 5:35 Where is it?

Gary Tham 5:41 It’s north of Sihanoukville. We have a very good community of Vietnamese Indonesians and Chinese workers. So we have a pretty decent customer base in the area.

AGBrief 6:23 How is it going so far?

Gary Tham 6:50 So far so good.

AGBrief 6:58 When did you actually start?

Gary Tham 7:01 In April. So it’s not long, it’s brand new.

AGBrief 7:05 Do you think there are more opportunities for this kind of small club located in the region?

Gary Tham 7:17 From my perspective, I think that’s the way to go right now. Since people tend to spend less on entertainment, and they tend to spend more on food and entertainment. So I guess small businesses like mine have to find a way to fit in and fit in to make people feel good. They are having a good time.

AGBrief 8:18 We wish you all the best with this. How has Sihanoukville changed since the lockdown?

Gary Tham 8:37 It’s beautiful now. It’s just a wonderful place. The roads are all asphalt so you have wide roads, the sewage system has improved, there are no more floods. Public services, for example, garbage collection, have all been set up by a private entity, so you no longer smell garbage in the city. You won’t have floods and we have traffic lights. So it’s better.