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Individual Documents

Title: Gambling on Law lessness
Date of publication: January 2007
Description/subject: A lucrative, illegal casino culture thrives o­n criminality and a blind eye... The precise government figure of 660,206 tourist arrivals in Burma in the past year doesn’t included my short holiday trip by small boat across a small tributary of the Mekong River at Sop Ruak, a sleepy village at the northern edge of Thailand...Given the opaque nature of the 20 or so casinos strung along the Burmese border—not o­nly alongside Thailand but also opposite China—it’s not surprising that revenue figures are difficult to obtain. Some observers estimate a $750 million a year gross from Burma casinos. Nothing o­n this scale could happen in Burma, of course, without the connivance of the military and its cronies, who are in effect in partnership with the casino operators. The figures indicate that the Naypyidaw military regime may reap close to $40 million a year based o­n an estimated five percent of the gross. A Thai government report recently estimated that about half a million Thais lose nearly $200 million a year in Burma-based casinos alone..."
Author/creator: William Boot
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 15, No. 1
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 26 July 2008

Title: The Rise and Fall of Burma’s Casino Capital
Date of publication: February 2006
Description/subject: Former casino hub Mong La struggles to reinvent itself as gamblers disappear... "The once famous transvestites that lined Mong La’s market square have gone, and so, too, the East European prostitutes. Renowned in past years as Burma’s premier gambling and entertainment center, the city has now dimmed the lights on what was thought—only a few years back—to be a nonstop party. A neon sign that lights up what was formerly the town’s leading casino still entices would-be gamblers with the large illuminated words “oh! That’s wonderful.” Only the LT Casino no longer accepts paying customers. “It hasn’t been open for a year,” a guard at the front gate told me in Chinese. Hard times have fallen on this formerly prosperous city in northeastern Shan State, near the border with China. In September 2003, Beijing began to curb Mong La’s fledgling casino industry after the relative of a Chinese official reportedly lost more than US $100,000 in a single visit to the town. Alerted to the city’s excesses in gambling, prostitution and drugs, the Chinese government amassed troops on the border between Shan State’s Special Region 4 and the Yunnan province border with Burma. All Chinese citizens were ordered to return, visas to the area were heavily restricted and no Chinese were permitted to stay overnight in Mong La on the threat of strict punishment..."
Author/creator: Clive Parker
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 14, No.2
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 01 May 2006

Title: Mong La: Burma's City of Lights
Date of publication: January 2003
Description/subject: "Cosmopolitan, garish and connected to the outside world via Internet and mobile phones, visitors to Mong La wonder if they are really in Burma anymore... For a while it seems like a road to nowhere. Only army checkpoints and small clusters of huts indicate some life. Then, quite suddenly, the view widens into a valley and the road changes from dirt to tar. At dusk the city ahead looks like a space shuttle that descended upon earth. Abundant neon lights line the buildings. Along a wide avenue, street lamps flash like fireworks. This is Mong La, the capital of Special Region Number Four in eastern Shan State. One wonders if this is still Burma. "Yuan," demands an old woman selling water when she is given kyat. A Chinese employee in the hotel hands over the key without the form filling and other paperwork so typical of the bureaucratic control elsewhere in the country. A condom in the basket of toiletries suggests there are other freedoms to be enjoyed too..."
Author/creator: Joan Williams
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy" Vol. 11, No. 1
Format/size: html
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003

Title: Poor Man’s Pick
Date of publication: November 2001
Description/subject: "An illegal version of the state lottery is lining the pockets of dealers and officials, but leaving ordinary Burmese none the richer. 'I’m betting eight hundred kyat on 71 this week. That’s all the money I’ve got to spare, but I’m sure to win. I got this number from a guy who played 30 kyat and won 2,400 last month. So I’ll be rich soon.' ..."
Author/creator: Ko Thet
Language: English
Source/publisher: "The Irrawaddy", Vol 9. No. 8, October-November 2001
Date of entry/update: 03 June 2003